The FBI has arrested one of the nation's most provocative white supremacists, the host of an Internet talk show and Web site, for saying that three federal judges should be killed.
Hal Turner, 47, was arrested Wednesday at his home in North Bergen, N.J., and accused of posting statements on his Web site calling for the murder of three federal appeals court judges in Chicago who recently ruled on a gun rights case.
"Let me be the first to say this plainly: these Judges deserve to be killed." He included their pictures, phone numbers, work address and room numbers along with a photo of the courthouse in which they work and a map of its location, the FBI says.
"We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period," said Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago.
According to the FBI, Turner's Web site noted that the decision on guns — a recent ruling upholding bans on handguns in Chicago and a suburb — came from the same federal appeals court that upheld the conviction of Matt Hale, a white supremacist who solicited the murder of a federal judge in Chicago, Joan Lefkow.
Turner noted that Lefkow's mother and husband were murdered by a gunman in her home. She was not hurt. His posting then stated: "Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn't get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed."
Tuner has a long history of making similar statements, including statements that members of Congress ought to be killed. What's different now is that he made statements about judges in Chicago, a city that has experienced very real violence directed against a judge's family.
On Monday, Turner was arraigned in a Connecticut court on a charge of encouraging violence against state legislators there. He allegedly told blog readers to "take up arms" against the lawmakers and that government officials should "obey the Constitution or die."
The federal judges he is accused of threatening ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court should make the decision on the local gun ordinances. They were identified as Richard Posner, Frank Easterbrook and William Bauer.
Turner was scheduled to appear Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp in federal court in Newark, N.J.
The charge of threatening to assault or murder a federal judge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Federal officials have said in the past that Turner was briefly an informant for the FBI, something he strongly denied.