Lawyer: Turner was on anti-terror payroll
Friday, November 20, 2009
TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE
HARTFORD — Hal Turner, the intermittent blogger and Internet radio host, was back in Superior Court Thursday after more than four months in jail, with his New Jersey attorney predicting federal and state charges against him will be thrown out.
Turner is charged here with inciting his followers to injure state Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, and a state worker.
In June, Turner on his Web site urged people to “take up arms” against the three men over a bill that would have given Roman Catholic lay members more control over parish finances and a lobbying issue.
He spent most of his jail time incarcerated in federal prison in Illinois, charged this summer with threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for a ruling upholding handgun bans.
The case here was pushed off to Dec. 17, while the federal charges have been transferred to federal District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., for Dec. 1 because of conflicts involving the federal judges in Illinois.
Turner’s main attorney, Michael Orozco of New Jersey, said after the brief court session that FBI documentation he has received details Turner’s alleged relationship as an informant for the FBI from 2003 through 2008.
Orozco said that, for now, he can only share the FBI documents with Connecticut prosecutors.
He said they include pay sheets showing the FBI budgeted $100,000 or more a year for Turner as part of its Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as correspondence between then-U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher Christie and the FBI detailing parameters of the project, dubbed “Vahalla.”
Christie was elected governor of New Jersey this month; he takes office Jan. 19.
Randall Sanborne, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the northern district of Illinois, would not comment Thursday on Vahalla, Christie’s alleged memos or any aspect of the Turner case.
Orozco said the material substantiates Turner’s claims he was trained as to what was acceptable speech, and while he wasn’t in the employ of the FBI when he did his Internet posts on the judges and Connecticut lawmakers, he said he followed the same guidelines.
The attorney was asked why Turner continued to make what law enforcement officials took as threatening remarks after he was no longer on the FBI payroll.
“He is a shock jock, nothing else. He gave a heated, but protected opinion as to what these (Connecticut) legislators were doing and that’s all. He didn’t ask anyone to commit any act of violence,” Orozco said.
The federal court ordered Turner not to talk on the telephone, Internet or to the media until the case is adjudicated, Orozco said.
Mr. Turner’s show was funded by his listeners and this is what he did for a living. He wasn’t trying to do anything illegal and never had committed an illegal act,” Orozco said. His main defense is that Turner’s remarks are protected speech.
Orozco, a silent Turner at his side, said it was “outrageous” the FBI arrested Turner for a kind of behavior they allegedly taught him.
he attorney said Turner “wasn’t making any of that alleged vitriolic speech — before he was approached by the FBI.”
Orozco said documents show Turner was “tasked ... to use fiery rhetoric so as to flush-out crazies before they attacked.” He said it allegedly netted more than 100 federal subjects and averted 10 acts of violence. He said they described Turner as “irreplaceable” and “crucial ... to the prevention of domestic terrorism and lone wolf attacks in the United States.”
Orozco alleges state police issued a false fugitive arrest warrant for Turner when they asked New Jersey police to arrest him in June before he could post lawmakers’ addresses. He said he is looking into possible criminal or civil charges against them.
A spokesman for the chief state’s attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.