Thursday, May 07, 2009

Free Ashton Lundeby! (VERY IMPORTANT Third Update, 5/7)

Special Update, May 7

Wired News's Threat Level column is reporting that Ashton Lundeby is not being held under the USA PATRIOT act. Since the case is under seal at present, the only source for the relevant details is Annette Lundeby; admittedly, she is not an objective observer, but the same would be true of the prosecution, as well.

In interviews I conducted with her both on May 5 and 6, Mrs. Lundeby has insisted that the PATRIOT act was invoked by the Feds in this case.

I reported her claims in good faith, buttressed by the assessment presented in the WRAL report from former U.S. Attorney Dan Boyce, as well as the fact -- noted in the original essay below -- that the PATRIOT act has been used in at least one other case involving a juvenile accused of a serious crime. Interestingly, the Feds have not denied that they're applying the PATRIOT act in this case; there's no reason not to issue such a denial if Mrs. Lundeby's claim is untrue.

As indicated in the first update below, which was filed just hours after the original post, a source close to the prosecution (not directly involved in the prosecution, but with detailed, first-hand knowledge of it) insists that the case against Ashton is strong enough that the use of such extraordinary measures would not be necessary.

Title 18, Section 844 (e) of the US Code makes it a felony punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years to make a bomb threat, either real or bogus, using "the mail, telephone, telegraph, or other instrument of interstate commerce...." That provision would explain the involvement of the FBI in a suspected bomb threat made from North Carolina against Purdue University in Indiana. Whatever the wisdom of that statute, its existence would appear to make use of the PATRIOT act gratuituous. This doesn't mean that the Feds didn't take the easy route, as Mrs. Lundeby claims, of course. But it does mean that if Ashton was involved in making bomb threats, he bought himself more trouble than he expected.

Expect a follow-up on all of this today.