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Defense: Feds ‘Manipulated’ Facts About Militia

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Defense lawyers at the trial of seven members of a Michigan-based militia say federal authorities greatly overreached by charging them with conspiring to overthrow the government.

Lawyer James Thomas told a Detroit jury on Tuesday that authorities “manipulated” the facts about the Hutaree militia because they were overly sensitive about perceived threats to the government and President Barack Obama.

Thomas’ remarks came during the second day of opening statements and the first day of testimony in the trial in Detroit federal court.

Also Tuesday, FBI Special Agent Leslie Larsen told the court they first became aware of the Hutaree through videos on their website which showed members in training maneuvers in the woods.

Larsen testified they were concerned with the police-style training they viewed taking place outside of conventional training grounds and shootings ranges.  It was then the FBI had a paid informant and then an undercover agent infiltrate the organization.

Larsen said the FBI recorded over 100 telephone conversations about Hutaree activities.  Larsen said the informant was paid $31,000 in cash for his critical role in the investigation Those secret recordings are being presented as evidence in the case.

Larsen was the first witness Tuesday after a two-day series of opening statements from lawyers who are defending the militia members.

WWJ Newsradio 950′s Ron Dewey is following the case. Stay with WWJ and CBSDetroit.com for the latest on the trial.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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