Leonard Boudin and Paul O'Dwyer, defense attorneys for the Harrisburg Eight, argued yesterday before U. S. District Court Judge Herman Dixon that charges against the defendants should be dropped.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to destroy Selective Service files, blow up heating tunnels in Washington, D. C., and kidnap Henry Kissinger '50, special assistant to President Nixon.
Boudin, visiting professor of Law at Harvard and attorney to defendant Eqbal Ahmsd, filed a motion for dismissal last week on behalf of all defenseattorneys in the case. His motion followed the government's release on April 30 of two letters allegedly written by defendants Sister Elizabeth McAlister and Father Philip Berrigan.
Judge Dixon made no final ruling yesterday on the defense motions. He also refused to issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting the government from issuing more evidence in the case before he releases a final decision.
Boudin's motion calls the release of the letters a "deliberate abuse" of judicial procedure and a violation of the defendants' rights. It asks the court to hold in contempt the government attorneys John Cottone, William S. Lynch, and others responsible for releasing the letters.
Cottone and Lynch argued yesterday that it is not unusual for the government to attach threatening letters to indictments charging persons with sending threatening letters through the mail.
The letters, which were released simultaneously with a new set of indictments against the defendants, contains a discussion of the possibility of kidnapping Henry Kissinger '50. Several of the defendants were charged with sending threatening letters through the mail in the new indictments.
Boudin and O'Dwyer argued yesterday that the law does not require the government to attach letters to such indictments, and that the government should have refrained from doing so in this situation, since the defendants have also been indicted-for conspiracy.
They also argued that the letters are not "threatening" in a statutory sense, since they produced no apprehension in the person threatened.
O'Dwyer noted that J. Edgar Hoover had prejudiced the defendants' rights to a fair trial earlier, when he announced in November-before any indictment had been issued-that the Berrigans and others were plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and hold him until the U. S. stopped the bombing in Southeast Asia.