A federal judge dismissed the most serious charges against seven members of a Michigan militia in an extraordinary defeat for federal authorities, as reported by Ed White at The Associated Press.U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said the hatred of law enforcement expressed by members of the Hutaree militia didn’t amount to a conspiracy to rebel against the government.
Federal prosecutors had insisted they had captured homegrown rural extremists poised for war.
Judge Roberts said that although protected speech and mere words can be sufficient to show a conspiracy, they do not rise to that level in this case.
Roberts subsequently granted requests for acquittal on the most serious charges— conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the U.S. and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction— and dismissed other weapons crimes tied to the alleged conspiracies.
The trial, which began on Feb. 13, will resume Thursday with only a few gun charges remaining against militia leader David Stone and his son Joshua Stone. Both men are from Lenawee County, Mich., and have been in custody without bond for two years.
The FBI put a local informant inside the militia in 2008 and paid him $31,000 to collect hours of anti-government audio and video that became the cornerstone of the case.
An FBI agent was also embedded, posing as a trucker and secretly recording talks with the elder Stone for months. The agent even served as Stone’s best man at his wedding, at which with militia members wore military fatigues.
The FBI rented a warehouse in Ann Arbor where the agent would invite him and others to store and discuss weapons. Stone’s knowledge of explosives apparently matched some of the instruction given to federal agents.
Stone was recorded saying he was willing to kill police and even their families because he considered them part of a sinister global authority that included federal law enforcers and United Nations troops.
Stone also suspected that Germany and Singapore had aircraft stationed in Texas, thousands of Canadian troops were poised to take over Michigan and the government put computer chips in a flu vaccine.
Prosecutors said Hutaree members were anti-government rebels who combined training and strategy sessions to prepare for a violent strike against federal law enforcement. But there never was an attack.
Stone’s defence attorney described him as a Christian who was bracing for war against the Antichrist.
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