A New Jersey blogger about to stand trial on charges he made death threats against federal judges apparently was paid by the FBI in its battle against domestic terrorism, according to a published report.
The Record of Bergen County reported Sunday that Hal Turner received thousands of dollars from the FBI to report on neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups and was sent undercover to Brazil.
Turner also claims the FBI coached him to make racist, anti-Semitic and other threatening statements on his radio show, but the newspaper also found many federal officials were concerned that his audience might follow up on his violence rhetoric.
The newspaper reviewed numerous government documents, e-mails, court records and almost 20 hours of jailhouse interviews with Turner.
He goes on trial Tuesday in New York, accused of making death threats against three Chicago-based federal appeals judges after saying in Internet postings in June the judges “deserve to be killed” because they had refused to overturn handgun bans in Chicago and suburban Oak Park.
The postings included the photos and work addresses of the judges — Richard Posner, Frank Easterbrook, and William Bauer — along with a picture of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in downtown Chicago and notations indicating the placement of “anti-truck bomb barriers.”
Turner’s FBI connections began in 2003 with the Newark-based Joint Terrorism Task Force and continued on and off until this year, according to the newspaper. He claims his postings and other inflammatory statements were part of an undercover operation to ferret out violent left-wing radicals.
His lawyer, Michael Orozco, has subpoenaed Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey and the state’s governor-elect, to testify on Turner’s behalf.
In an affidavit filed with the subpoena, Orozco says Christie knew of Turner’s activities between 2002 and 2008 while Christie held his federal post. Orozco says Christie issued a letter saying he would not prosecute Turner for his statements.
It was not known whether Christie would be called to testify.
He said last week that he had not yet seen the subpoena, but said “any advice I gave as U.S. attorney regarding prosecutions is something I am not going to talk about publicly.”
Federal prosecutors and FBI officials declined comment on Turner’s claims.
“We do not comment on matters before the courts, and will not address Mr. Turner’s allegations in the press,” said Weysan Dun, who runs the FBI’s Newark field office.
Turner said he feels double-crossed by the bureau after his June arrest.
But other documents show federal agents growing more anxious about his extremist views while valuing his ties to right-wing hate groups, the newspaper said. It noted one memo that stated Turner “has proven highly reliable and is in a unique position to provide vital information on multiple subversive domestic organizations.”
In a separate case, Turner was charged with “inciting injury to persons” for urging blog readers to “take up arms” against Connecticut lawmakers who proposed legislation to give Roman Catholic lay members more control over parish finances.