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Defense cites entrapment in airport suicide bomb case

  • Associated Press
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, at 7:25 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at 2:31 p.m.

Photos

Barry Grissom announces arrest of Terry Lee Loewen

United States attorney Barry Grissom announces the arrest of Terry Lee Loewen on terrorism charges on Friday. Loewen is accused in a plot to blow up Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport in a suicide bomb attack. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)

The trial of an avionics technician accused of plotting a suicide bombing at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport will likely focus on what the defense is calling entrapment and outrageous government conduct, according to documents filed in federal court Tuesday.

Attorneys for Terry L. Loewen opposed many rules prosecutors want for purported national security reasons, saying the government wants to micromanage the defense’s handling of evidence.

Loewen, 58, was arrested Dec. 13 after a six-month-long undercover sting when he attempted to drive a van carrying what he believed was a bomb onto the tarmac at Mid-Continent. He is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of an explosive device to damage property and attempted material support to the terrorist group al-Qaida.

The defense filing comes in response to a request by the government to limit who can see information that has been declassified for the purpose of prosecuting Loewen. Prosecutors want U.S. District Judge Monti Belot to issue a protective order limiting dissemination of “sensitive sources and methods” so as to ensure the government’s ability to use such investigative measures in future national security cases.

The defense wrote it thinks that the methods used by investigators will shed light on how two undercover FBI agents allegedly transformed “a Wichita aviation mechanic with over 30 years of experience and a former Marine who loves his family” into a terrorist prepared to commit suicide on behalf of al-Qaida.

Because it is unlikely the undercover agents disclosed national secrets or classified information during conversations with Loewen, this case shouldn’t be treated differently than other sting cases, the defense wrote.

The government is seeking an order that requires permission from the court to show potential witness information and prohibits the defense from making copies of recordings without court permission.

“These micro-management restrictions upon handling the material are unnecessary, burdensome and invasive,” defense attorneys wrote in the filing.

A status hearing is scheduled for Feb. 10.

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