Ashton Lundeby Update

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It appears that, contrary to what I reported two days ago, Ashton Lundeby is not being held under the USA PATRIOT act.

Earlier today, a memo marked “Not for distribution outside law enforcement” was circulated among officials in Indiana — where Ashton is being held at the Thomas N. Frederick Juvenile Justice Center in South Bend. The memo complained of hostile publicity given to the case inspired by what were described as “false claims” from Ashton’s mother, Annette Lundeby, about the use of the PATRIOT act in the arrest and detention of her son.

Those claims led the office of US Attorney David Capp to issue a press release today insisting that the arrest and detention of Ashton Lundeby “is unrelated to the PATRIOT act.”
“The juvenile has appeared in court on three occasions, once in North Carolina for an initial hearing and a detention hearing, and twice in Indiana for a continued initial hearing and a status hearing,” the press release relates. “At each hearing, the juvenile was represented by counsel…. The juvenile is presently housed in a juvenile facility in the Northern District of Indiana where he does not have contact with adult offenders. His mother has been apprised of each court appearance and has attended the hearing in North Carolina; she did not appear at either of the hearings in Indiana.”

As the press release notes, Annette Lundeby was present during the initial hearing in North Carolina, and until today she was the only source available to describe the details of her son’s arrest and the terms of his detention. In interviews I conducted with her both on May 5 and 6, Mrs. Lundeby 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 essay published on LRC two days ago — that the PATRIOT act’s definition of “domestic terrorism” has been used in at least one other case involving a juvenile accused of a serious crime.

In updates to the original story, I relate that 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 later today on Pro Libertate.

2:08 pm on May 7, 2009
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