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Newspaper: Spokane men investigated in Olympic bombing

bombing January 26, 1997
Web posted at: 10:00 a.m. EST

SPOKANE, Washington (CNN) -- A Spokane newspaper reported Sunday that a federal probe into last summer's Olympic park bombing is looking closely at three men who have been arrested and charged in three bombings in Spokane.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review quoted an unnamed Justice Department official saying that the three "are our strongest lead" in the July 27 bomb blast that killed one and injured more than 100 in Atlanta, "but there's a lot more work to do."

The newspaper said that "Justice Department and FBI officials at several levels" confirmed that the Spokane men were under investigation, but cautioned they had other leads and that the three were not considered suspects in the Atlanta bombing.

Federal officials told CNN only that the three men had been "looked at" in connection with the bombing.

Officials have been cautious in discussing the investigation since misidentifying security guard Richard Jewell as a suspect last fall. After calling national media attention to the man who found the bomb before it went off, the FBI was forced to admit it had no evidence linking Jewell to the bombing.

The three men identified by the Spokane paper as being under investigation have been accused in three bombings in the Spokane area -- one at an office of the newspaper itself, one at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and a third at a bank branch, which also was robbed. There were no injuries in any of those bombings.

The paper said investigators were led to the three by a military surplus dealer who helped identify them as suspects in the Spokane bombings. The dealer, who has been moved to a secret location by the FBI, spoke up when he saw photographs of the military-style backpack investigators say was used to conceal the Olympic Park bomb. The man said he had sold a similar pack to two of the three men.

The informant reportedly told investigators that the men asked him how to remove fingerprints from the backpack and discussed a time-delayed detonator similar to the one used in the Atlanta bomb.

FBI officials also reportedly told the newspaper that telephone records show several collect calls from the Atlanta area to the home of one of the men around the time of the bombing.

According to the paper, one of the three men once worked for AT&T in Georgia and Florida, allegedly calling the telephone giant an immoral company because of gay and lesbian awareness sessions and the number of women in its work force.

The Atlanta bomb was placed next to a sound control tower at AT&T's Global Village stage in Centennial Olympic Park.

The three men are scheduled to go on trial in the Spokane bombings on February 10, but that trial could be delayed because they have so far refused a court order to provide handwriting samples and be photographed, the Spokesman-Review said.


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