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Blogger acquitted of threats sues Conn. officials

HARTFORD — A blogger who urged readers to ‘‘take up arms’’ against Connecticut officials is suing state government leaders for $50 million after being acquitted of threatening and inciting violence.

Harold ‘‘Hal’’ Turner, of North Bergen, N.J., filed the lawsuit in federal court in Newark on Nov. 21 saying he was falsely arrested, wrongfully imprisoned, and maliciously prosecuted. A jury acquitted him last year. Defendants in the suit referred questions to the state attorney general’s office.

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Turner was arrested after a June 2009 blog posting suggesting that Connecticut officials ‘‘obey the Constitution or die’’ and urging readers to ‘‘take up arms and put down this tyranny by force.’’ He added that if authorities tried to stop his cause, ‘‘I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down, too.’’

The posting was in response to legislation debated by state lawmakers that would have given lay people of Roman Catholic churches more control over parish finances. Turner believed the legislation flew in the face of the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state. The bill had been withdrawn three months before his posting.

A state jury in Hartford ­acquitted Turner in September 2011 after he argued that his free speech rights were being trampled and that there was never any violence against state officials.

At the time of his trial, Turner was serving a nearly three-year prison sentence for threatening judges in Illinois.

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