Terror law challenged in NATO terror case

Jan. 26, 2013 at 3:16 PM   |   0 comments

CHICAGO, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A judge gave Illinois prosecutors two weeks to respond to a constitutional challenge to the state's terrorism law.

Lawyers for three protesters charged with plotting to firebomb last year's NATO summit in Chicago Friday asked Criminal Court Judge Thaddeus Wilson to declare the statute unconstitutional on the grounds it was too vague to adequately protect the right to free speech.

Wilson ordered state prosecutors to respond in two weeks. A hearing on the challenge will likely be scheduled for March, the Chicago Tribune said.

The anti-NATO trio never carried out their alleged plot but they face 11 counts, including conspiracy to commit terrorism.

The defense contends the terrorism statute was vague and overly broad when it defined terrorism as "intent to intimidate or coerce a significant portion of a civilian population." Attorneys told the newspaper it appeared it could apply to non-violent protests that are protected by the First Amendment.

"On its face, (the law) could criminalize as terrorism First Amendment conduct, like protests, labor strikes, boycotts – they are all intended in some way to intimidate or coerce," said Michael Deutsch of the People's Law Office, which represents defendant Brian Church, 21, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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