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Chicago jury acquits 3 NATO summit protesters of terrorism, convicts on lesser arson counts

A jury has acquitted three NATO summit protesters of breaking Illinois' rarely tested state terrorism law.

Jurors on Friday did convict Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly on lesser arson counts.

Prosecutors described the men as dangerous anarchists who were plotting to throw Molotov cocktails at President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters and other Chicago sites during the 2012 summit. Undercover officers infiltrated the group and the men were arrested before the summit began.

Defense lawyers scoffed at the portrayal of their clients as terrorists. They described them as drunken goofs who were goaded into the Molotov cocktail plot by the officers.

Nearly all terrorism cases are filed in federal court. Many states passed terrorism laws after 9/11 in what were seen as largely symbolic gestures.

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