Feds: We have video evidence of Ohio man in US Capitol plot

AP News
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Posted: Feb 05, 2015 11:41 AM

CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal authorities say they have video and audio recordings of meetings between a confidential informant and a man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol.

Prosecutor Timothy Mangan disclosed the planned evidence when U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith met with attorneys to discuss handling classified information in the case of Christopher Lee Cornell.

A transcript from the in-chambers conference Tuesday shows that Mangan said meetings between Cornell and the informant over a six-day period were recorded. He said authorities are working to shield the informant's identity in tapes.

"There were a series of about six days of meetings between the individuals, over really three different visits," Mangan said. "All those were recorded. In addition, there were direct messages sent between them."

He didn't discuss details.

Cornell has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees and two other counts. His father has said the 20-year-old Cornell was coerced by a "snitch" trying to improve his own legal situation.

Cornell's attorney didn't respond immediately Thursday to a request for comment.

Mangan said authorities are working to obscure the informant's image to protect his identity. He also said investigators are analyzing potential computer evidence — Cornell's father has said FBI agents seized the family's computers from their Green Township home in suburban Cincinnati.

The meeting was about procedures for balancing a suspect's right to obtain evidence for his defense with restricting disclosure of material linked to national security interests. Branden Forsgren, a Justice Department litigation security specialist, took part. His job is protecting classified information, and he'll obtain security clearances for attorneys and court employees as needed.

The FBI has said Cornell wanted to "wage jihad' by attacking the Capitol with pipe bombs and shooting government officials and employees. Charges of attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees and solicitation to commit a crime of violence carry potential 20-year prison sentences with convictions. Cornell also faces a firearms-related charge that carries a mandatory minimum of five years to a maximum of life in prison.

Cornell, who uses the Muslim name of Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, has been held without bond since his Jan. 14 arrest.

Mangan, assistant U.S. attorney in Cincinnati, has been joined in the case by Michael Dittoe, a veteran attorney in the Justice Department's National Security Division Counterterrorism Section.

Beckwith scheduled a status conference for April 27.

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