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Lawyer: California terrorism suspect has mental illness, talked 'hot air' to FBI

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The lawyer for a California man facing a terrorism charge says his client has a mental illness that made him vulnerable to a confidential informant.

Nicholas Michael Teausant allegedly talked to the informant and an undercover FBI agent about joining a terrorist group and fighting in Syria.

But his attorney, Assistant Federal Defender Benjamin Galloway, says in court papers that Teausant's talk was "all hot air," and he took no action to support terrorism other than boarding a train to Washington state, where he was arrested in March.

Investigators say he planned to travel to Canada before heading to Syria. Teausant has pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Sacramento Bee reported on Wednesday ( that a federal magistrate ordered Teausant's release on $200,000 bail to the custody of his grandparents, but she then granted a federal prosecutor's request to keep him in jail pending a government appeal.

Federal prosecutor Jason Hitt opposes Teausant's release before trial. Hitt questioned whether the grandparents could care for the suspect, especially if he quit taking his medication. Hitt said Teasusant could become violent without his medication.

Teausant's terms of release before trial include that he continue taking his prescription medication and refrain from alcohol or illegal drug use. He would also be confined to his grandparents' home and required to wear an ankle monitor so authorities can track his movement.

Teausant is scheduled to appear before a district judge on Tuesday.


Information from: The Sacramento Bee,

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