World

Acquittal of two militiamen accused of kidnapping Michigan governor

It’s a bitter failure for the prosecution’s team. Two far-right activists accused of fomenting a conspiracy to remove the Democratic governor of MichiganGretchen Whitmer, were acquitted Friday by a jury in this northern state of the United States, which could not rule on the guilt of the other two defendants.

After a month of trial in Grand Rapids federal court and five days of deliberation, jurors acquitted Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta without reaching a unanimous verdict on Adam Fox and Barry Croft. Judge Robert Jonker therefore annulled the trial for the latter.

The four men were part of a group strongly opposed to the governor’s restrictive measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, and who wanted to start a “civil war” in the United States, according to the prosecution. kidnap the leader. and condemn her for “treason”.

“Wolverine Watcher”

Their arrest in October 2020 illustrated the growing threat from radical right-wing militias, which was subsequently confirmed during the attack on the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. Several members of far-right groups were charged with their role in the attack on the headquarters of the United Nations. Congress of the United States.

Among the rest of the group, two activists have pleaded guilty, one of whom has already been sentenced to six years in prison. Eight others, charged with complicity, will be tried in Michigan state court.

According to the prosecution, the four activists accused the governor of being “a tyrant” and had contacted a local group called the “Wolverine Watchmen” to train to kidnap her and bring her to justice.

Undercover FBI Agents

They had decided to trap her in her second home in the Great Lakes region, where they had explored twice. They had taken a picture of a bridge they wanted to blow up with explosives to delay the arrival of the police.

Adam Fox, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta and Barry Croft pleaded not guilty. They claim to have been ambushed by undercover federal police officers and informants who they believe urged them to trade, train and arm themselves.

Adam Fox was a “marginal”, with no home or money, who “wanted to be cool,” pleaded with his attorney Christopher Gibbons, assuring that he had only put forward “insane ideas” during drunken and smoky evenings. On the contrary, prosecutor Jonathan Roth confirmed that the group was “focused on action” and the “desire for a second civil war”.