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'NATO 3' Trial Begins For Protesters Charged With Planning Attacks On Chicago Summit

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The "NATO 3" -- from left: Brian Betterly, Jared Chase and Brian Church -- are charged with planning attacks on the NATO summit in Chicago. | AP

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Opening statements are due to begin on Tuesday in the trial of three men accused of plotting to attack high-profile targets, including President Barack Obama's re-election campaign headquarters, during the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.

Brent Betterly, 25, Brian Church, 25, and Jared Chase, 29, are being prosecuted under an Illinois anti-terrorism law adopted after the September 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks.

The three men have pleaded not guilty. Their lawyers say they were entrapped by undercover Chicago police officers and that the charges were trumped up and politically motivated.

They face an 11-count state indictment of offenses, including conspiracy to commit arson and possession of explosives.

Prosecutors say the men were caught making Molotov cocktails -- crude gasoline bombs -- which they planned to use during the May 2012 summit of the NATO military alliance. The event drew thousands of anti-war demonstrators to Chicago and the city set up a heavy police presence.

According to prosecutors, one proposed target was the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was previously a top aide to President Obama.

The trial is expected to last for three weeks in the state court in Chicago. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Edith Honan and Stephen Powell)

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