March 30, 2011 in City

Father of bomb plot suspect calls arrest a setup

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

The father of domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham said he believes his son was set up by someone wanting to pocket the big reward posted by the FBI.

“They put out a reward for $20,000, and one of his slimy friends turned him in for the money,” Cecil Harpham, 68, of Kettle Falls, Wash., said Tuesday. “Now, the government won’t admit it to me, but I happen to know it’s true.”

Harpham, in his first comments to The Spokesman-Review since his son’s March 9 arrest, said it appears federal agents quit trying to solve the case and focused in on his son simply because of his racist Internet postings.

“He’s sad and he’s pretty worried,” said Harpham, who visited with his son Monday at the Spokane County Jail, where he’s being held while awaiting trial on federal charges. “To detain him for a year, or as long as the feds drag this thing out, that’s got to be … terrible.”

The elder Harpham has said repeatedly that Kevin Harpham was with him on Jan. 17 and could not have placed the bomb, which was discovered in downtown Spokane along the planned route of the Unity March to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Kevin Harpham was with his father “from the time I got up until I went to bed at night” on Jan. 17, Cecil Harpham said, adding that they saw coverage of the bomb’s discovery on the TV news. “We watched the robot go up and get the pack off the bench.”

All documents relating to the investigation have been sealed.

“I think they truly believe that he’s responsible,” the father said. “But they are convinced they got the right person so they are unwilling to look any further.”

Federal officials have not said how they got Kevin Harpham out of his home on March 9 but have described it as a planned evolution of events.

However, Cecil Harpham said his son was on his way to Spokane to purchase an SUV when he saw what looked like road construction crews step into the roadway as he approached the bridge over the Colville River.

The agents “went out and stopped him. Then they crashed into his car with a backhoe and jerked him out and handcuffed him and stuff,” Cecil Harpham said. “He said it scared him half to death. He said he shook for over an hour.”

Cecil Harpham disputed earlier TV news reports indicating that he’d acknowledged his son might have been involved in building the bomb but that he wouldn’t have been the instigator or acted alone. “I don’t believe he helped make it. What I said was misquoted or I said this wrong. I said ‘if’ he helped make it. That’s a big ‘if,’ ” the elder Harpham said Tuesday.

“I know he was with me when the bomb was being placed.”

Meanwhile in Spokane, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Harrington filed a request last week that defense attorneys provide “written notice … of any intended alibi defense relating to” the charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. That presumably relates to Cecil Harpham’s statements.

Roger Peven, executive director of Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, said he has not decided how to reply to Harrington’s alibi request and that he has already received some documents relating to evidence in the case, which remains under seal.


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