HAMMOND, Ind. – A judge refused to throw out a Purdue University student's indictment on charges alleging he urged the assassination of President George Bush and made threats against other administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife.
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Moody clears the way for Vikram Buddhi's trial to begin June 25 in Moody's Hammond courtroom.
Buddhi, an Indian national who was attending advanced engineering classes at Purdue's West Lafayette campus, faces an 11-count complaint for alleged comments he made in an Internet chat room in 2005 and 2006.
Friday's indictment alleges that he made threats against the president, Vice President Dick Cheney and their wives. He also made threats against then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and called for the bombings of the American infrastructure, it alleges.
"It is now legal under international law to bomb key sites in the USA. Iraqis! Give Anglosaxons the tit reaction for the tat action of Bush and the Republicans," Buddhi wrote in one posting, according to federal court records.
Buddhi's federal public defender, John Martin, has argued that Buddhi's comments were protected speech under the First Amendment because they were intended as "political banter" in opposition to the war in Iraq.
For example, on a message board pertaining to defense contractor Halliburton, Buddhi posted that "Bush is a President of Mass Destruction" and "should be electrocuted."
Martin compared the comments to a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court case in which an 18-year-old war protester told a crowd at the Washington Memorial, "If they ever make me carry a rifle, the first man I want to get in my sights is LBJ (President Johnson)."
The high court ruled the protester's comments were simply crude political speech and overturned his conviction.
Buddhi's messages were posted on Yahoo! Finance messages boards on the Internet, although prosecutors say Buddhi attempted to conceal his actions by using someone else's digital identity.
Buddhi has also argued that his indictment was too vague and that his exhortations for someone to "Kill GW Bush" and "Rape and Kill Laura Bush" were not "true threats" because Buddhi was not threatening to do it himself.
The judge rejected all of these arguments, saying the indictment was strong enough that a jury should decide whether Buddhi's threats of violence were illegal.