NATO 3: Recordings Reveal Undercover Cop “Mo” Helped Build Molotovs, Directed Defendants
Today in the trial of the NATO 3—Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, Brian Jacob Church—undercover Chicago cop Mehmet Uygun (aka “Mo”) continued his testimony and began cross-examination by the defense attorneys. A few audio recordings from the undercovers' wires were also played as Uygun gave more testimony. These recordings largely showed that Uygun, like his partner Nadia Chikko (aka “Gloves”), had instigated discussions of Molotovs and other explosives, sought materials for making Molotovs, and directed some of the defendants in constructing them on May 16, 2012. Uygun will continue being cross-examined tomorrow and closing arguments in the case could begin as early as Wednesday of this week. Trial resumes tomorrow morning at 10am (everyone must be seated by 9:45am).
The court proceedings started today with the defense attorneys providing oral arguments on a motion they submitted to the judge this morning. The motion asked for portions of Uygun's testimony from last Thursday to be stricken from the record because he improperly gave his interpretations of the defendants' recorded comments when the audio recordings provided the evidence of their statements. The defense attorneys also argued that Uygun gave his interpretations of entire conversations, not individual words or specific statements that might be open to interpretation. Further, they argued, he added in references to Molotovs and other explosives when the defendants were clearly not talking about them. The prosecutors argued that they had done everything appropriately but would make sure to phrase their questions more specifically if the judge so ordered. The judge ruled that some questions had been inappropriate but overall they were fine, so he would not strike any of the testimony. However, he said he would issue the jury an instruction to remedy the situation, giving the defense attorneys leave to shape the instruction and provide him with their recommendation for it.
Once Uygun resumed testifying, his testimony and the additional audio recordings played continued to show the ways the undercovers had instigated and directed the construction of Molotovs that led up to the defendants getting arrested on conspiracy and terrorism charges. Uygun admitted he had asked for a knife to cut a bandanna into strips and then cut the bandanna, giving the strips to Chase to use as wicks, although he tried to avoid admitting that the strips were for wicks. One recording revealed that he had talked through creating the first Molotov and then told Chase to finish the rest.
Much of Uygun's testimony closely followed Chikko's testimony, although he contradicted her at times. For example, he said they had brought beer to the apartment where Church and Chase had been staying one two occasions and had given some of the defendants beer both times, whereas Chikko first said she had never given them beer and then said she had given Church half a beer one time (he was 20 years old at the time). He also claimed that Chase had discussed making napalm bombs with him as they walked from the gas station back to the apartment, but this conversation was not recorded because his recording device was attached to the backpack he left at the apartment.
Under cross examination, Uygun was forced to admit that he had been the first to bring up the idea of Molotov cocktails the day the NATO 3 were arrested. He also asserted that he was only watching the Molotovs be built, not participating in the process, even though he admitted to cutting the bandanna and going to buy gas. Additionally, he claimed that his statement that he had two dollars for gas and that he and Chase were going to the gas station was not him offering to chip in money for gas. Throughout his testimony, it has been apparent that his interpretations of his own actions and words in the undercover investigation are just as off base as his professed interpretations of the defendants' actions and words.
Uygun also admitted that Betterly was not present for the vast majority of the conversations and was not a vocal participant in most of the recordings on May 16. Further, he admitted that he had never discussed with Betterly any plans for using Molotovs and that Betterly never handled any of the Molotovs.
When an attorney for Chase was cross examining him, Uygun went into more detail about his undercover investigative work with the Counter Intelligence Unit, including infiltrating Occupy Chicago meetings and a punk rock show. He denied being on the lookout for anarchists, claiming instead that he was only looking for criminal activity. Nevertheless, a surveillance team photographed Church when the undercovers first met with him on May 2 after meeting him at a Mayday party at an activist center the day before. He also admitted that he had never seen either Church or Chase commit any criminal activity prior to the day they were raided and arrested.
After the jury was dismissed for the day, the judge briefly talked about the schedule for the next few days. Uygun's testimony is expected to be complete around 2pm tomorrow, with the rest of the day to be spent on arguing various legal motions. Closing statements in the trial could begin on Wednesday, after which the jury will begin deliberations.
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