Cleveland bomb case: Role of FBI informant will be key

As the case of five men charged with plotting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge goes forward, one of the key questions will revolve around the role of the FBI’s confidential informant in the case. That informant was at the center of discussions and, according to at least one defense lawyer, may have been too active.

The five men are scheduled to appear in federal court Monday for a hearing on charges including conspiracy and trying to bomb property used in interstate commerce. The government alleges that the group was involved in an anarchist plot to make a violent political statement against the wealthy and powerful in time for May Day, which honors workers’ struggles around the world. If convicted, each faces more than 20 years in prison.

All are expected to plead not guilty. The bigger question will be their defense, and one lawyer has already called into question the role of the person expected to be the key witness, a confidential informant. Such a defense would be similar to that of other terrorism-type cases involving a sting or the use of an informant.

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