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On Third Try, Prosecutors Convict Neo-Nazi Blogger of Threats

By Mark Potok on August 16, 2010 - 11:55 am, Posted in Anti-Black, Anti-Semitic, Extremist Crime

After two attempts to convict Hal Turner of threatening federal judges ended in mistrials, the government last Friday finally made it stick — despite the fact that the neo-Nazi blogger had served as an FBI informant for years. A sentencing date was not set, but Turner faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Turner, who worked as an FBI informant between 2003 and 2007, consistently insisted that his June 2009 Internet threats were merely political hyperbole of the sort that he claimed his FBI handlers had once encouraged. And in two earlier trials, in December 2009 and last March, jurors failed to convict him. They were apparently confused by testimony that left it unclear if Turner was acting at the behest of authorities and whether or how real his threats were.

But on Friday, jurors took only two hours to decide that Turner was guilty of making serious threats against three federal appeals court judges who upheld a ban on handguns in Chicago. Unlike in the earlier trials, Turner’s direct FBI supervisor, Steven Haug, testified, denying that he had told Turner to “ratchet up his rhetoric” to help the FBI find the killer of a federal judge’s family in another case. Haug said Turner was a “control” problem for the FBI, but also testified that he was an important asset because of his star status in the white supremacist world.

When Turner’s relationship with the FBI was first disclosed in January 2008, the agency was sharply criticized for running an informant who seemed to be creating far more danger to the public than he was averting. Those comments were published on this blog, which also was the first to confirm Turner’s informant status.

In the postings that drew the federal charges, Turner, who was already widely known for his vitriolic Internet postings and threats, said of the three judges, “If they are allowed to get away with this by surviving, other judges will act the same way.” He also wrote: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges must die. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.” The next day, Turner updated the post to include the names, work addresses, phone numbers, and photographs of the three judges. He also added a photograph of their courthouse that was modified to show the locations of “anti-truck bomb barriers.”

Turner, who showed little reaction to the verdict, was immediately returned to custody. His wife, Kathy Diamond, told reporters, “There goes the First Amendment for everybody.” His 16-year-old son said, “I love you, Dad.”

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Something seems to be missing here. This guy was an FBI asset for some time. The FBI had to know about the rhetoric he was preaching and what-not. Surely they encouraged this to get him to bring nutcases out of the woodwork. But what if some nutcase was encouraged by his rhetoric, and decided to go “lone wolf”? One might say the FBI is acting really irresponsibly if they use informants in this way.

  • Mike Magruder

    All I have to do is recall what happened to California Judge Harold Haley in 1970 and I want to see Turner in a rubber room permanently. It’s hard to believe that one of my favorite public school teachers and the captain of the Lusitania were named Turner. Maybe this character should have moved to one of those foreign countries where the local rich criminals own judges and tell them what to do on the bench. Turner’s “free speech” baloney is asinine. If these jokers knew where I’m writing this they’d probably stash explosives in my underpants.

  • daemonesslisa

    People have been whining about ‘entrapment’ and ‘free speech’ as it regards Hal Turner for a while now. The thing about entrapment, however, is that they take the bait willfully. No one makes them do it, they just do whatever the hell they want. And as far as free speech goes; not only does free speech work both ways, but free speech ends when you threaten elected officials. It’s the law, deal with it.

    Hal Turner got exactly what was coming to him for a very long time. And so did Bill White. The only problem I have with that, is that they won’t be in jail long enough.

  • MM

    Wow, John, hyperbole much? Nazi comparison four posts in? Really?

    And what’s with this try, try again. He wasn’t acquitted; hung juries often lead to retrials.

    And I really don’t see this as entrapment. He posted these things voluntarily; that law enforcement might have encouraged him before doesn’t mean that he was forced to do this. He did this all by himself; he can now face the consequences.

    But I guess none of this makes a difference, does it? They’re all really out to get you.

  • JohnLloydScharf

    This sounds more like entrapment than justice. It is a sure sign of how pathetic, if not dangerous, the FBI has become.

    On the other hand, it seems if the government does not like the trial outcome, they can try, try, again until they get the verdict they want.

    This government has more in common with Nazi justice than the “daemonesslisas” of the would can admit. It is like the Reichstag fire’s show trials in Nazi Germany.

  • jenwren

    I feel that the last jurors’ decision was correct. We can’t have a culture in which federal judges are exposed to thugs and hitmen, no matter how the FBI uses hatemongers against each other.
    I do not envy this man his prison experience, and yet I do hope he ends up soaking up some of the larger reality of life while he has the time. It’s never too late!

  • Shea Justice

    I wonder how his buddy Sean Hannity feels about this.

  • daemonesslisa

    One down, thousands to go!