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Evidence in Michigan Governor kidnapping plot released, video shows them practicing and promising to take out officers

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By Paul Egan, Tresa Baldas and M.L. Elrick

Detroit Free Press

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids on Friday released a wide range of photos, videos, and other exhibits introduced into evidence at a preliminary examination for six men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Exhibits introduced before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens include:

Videos of live-fire training exercises. Still photos and videos from surveillance conducted outside Whitmer’s family cottage in northern Michigan. An image of a map of the area around Whitmer’s cottage allegedly drawn by plot ringleader Adam Fox. Prosecutors redacted parts of the map so it would not show where the house is located. Images of chat threads among the various defendants, discussing their plans. The chats were encrypted, but the FBI and prosecutors were able to de-encrypt them, because a confidential informant who was part of the anti-government group was included in the chat strings. Photos of various firearms. A self-made video of one of the defendant’s tirades against the police.

The Detroit Free Press requested release of the exhibits.

Some of the photos and videos were shot by one of two confidential informants who had been accepted by the Wolverine Watchmen as a member of the anti-government group, sometimes described as a militia group.

On Friday, Berens wrapped up a preliminary examination and said there is enough evidence to send five of the six defendants to trial. The sixth man is awaiting extradition from Delaware. All six men have been in custody since their Oct. 7 arrests.

In addition to the federal defendants, eight other men are facing terrorism-related charges filed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

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