Local News

Feds: Teen's not being held under Patriot Act

Posted May 7, 2009 5:04 p.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2009 9:22 a.m. EDT

— The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday a local mother's claim that her son is being held under the USA Patriot Act is incorrect.

Annette Lundeby told WRAL News on April 29 that her 16-year-old son, Ashton Lundeby, is being held at a juvenile facility in South Bend, Ind., on a criminal complaint that he made a bomb threat from his Oxford home on the night of Feb. 15.

She said she believed authorities applied the Patriot Act to strip her son of his due process rights. She said she has had little access to him since his March 5 arrest.

Responding after nationwide media attention following the story, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana said in a news release that the charge is based on federal law prohibiting bomb and death threats.

"This charge is unrelated to the Patriot Act," U.S. Attorney David Capp said.

Capp and the FBI initially declined to talk about the case, citing a gag order and law that prohibits disclosure of information in federal cases involving juveniles.

But in Thursday's release, he said, the arrest stems from a false bomb threat directed at Purdue University and similar threats to other schools.

"The FBI, the Purdue University Police Department and the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's Office conducted an extensive investigation into this matter, resulting in that arrest," Capp said.

Annette Lundeby said Thursday afternoon she had assumed federal agents arrested her son under the Patriot Act based on jackets they wore that read "Terrorist Task Force" and because they have given her no information about the case.

She also said she has been trying for weeks to get information about the case and was "amazed" it took nationwide attention for the U.S. attorney to release it.

"They have had plenty of time to contact me, and they won't even return my calls, yet they contact the media?" Lundeby said.

In her initial WRAL News interview last month, she said told agents that someone hacked into her son's IP address and used his Internet phone account to make the alleged threats.

Investigators seized a computer, cell phone, gaming console and routers from her home, according to search warrants, but Lundeby said they found no bomb-making materials.

Not mentioning Ashton Lundeby by name, Capp also said the "juvenile" has been represented by counsel at each of his three court appearances and that his mother "has been apprised of each" and that he is being held in a facility that permits family visits.

Lundeby said Thursday she has not been made aware of any other court appearance other than his initial one in Raleigh, despite her "constant inquiries."

"I want to be there," she said.

Passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., the Patriot Act allows federal agents to investigate suspected cases of terrorism swiftly to better protect the country.

In part, it gives the federal government more latitude to search telephone records, e-mails and other records. Critics of the statute have argued that it threatens the most basic of liberties.