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Knoxville man suspected of helping ISIS makes his case in federal court

Ben Carpenter argued the prosecutor's indictment was too vague. The government has filed a new indictment with more detail.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville man charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization asked a federal judge to throw out the government's case against him. 

Benjamin Carpenter, 31, faces charges related to editing a translation of an ISIS propaganda video. Titled "Bleeding Campaigns," it shows a suicide bombing and beheadings — including of one person alleged to be an Israeli spy. 

Carpenter said he "essentially" was supporting and advocating for ISIS, but said, "that's kind of beside the point." His motions to dismiss the case argue that prosecutors failed to identify specifics in the indictment against him.

The government has since filed a superseding indictment that has more detail.

"A lot of times when the government recognizes that there may be a defect in their charging instrument in their indictment, they will just go ahead and remedy the defect," said attorney T. Scott Jones, who is not connected to the case. 

Carpenter also argued he carefully toed the line of legality when acting in support of ISIS and believed his actions are protected under the Constitutional right to free speech. 

"I knew from FBI reports, and I stayed updated with the latest news, and stuff like that material support would be -- is -- prohibited," he said on a low-resolution video chat from the Knox County Jail. 

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Jones said it is possible the judge will consider the argument that Carpenter's actions are protected under the First Amendment, but said: "it's really going to depend on exactly how far he went." 

Carpenter also said it is not fair that an undercover FBI agent asked him to translate the video, calling it "entrapment." 

Carpenter said he feels "optimistic," but Jones said he thinks the case against Carpenter will likely move forward despite the motions to have it dismissed.