Suspected Spokane bomb plotter pleads not guilty

SEATTLE Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:20pm EDT

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of attempting to plant a backpack bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane.

Kevin William Harpham, 36, pleaded not guilty to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of possessing an improvised explosive device in federal court in Spokane, according to authorities.

He faces a life sentence if convicted of the first charge.

Harpham, who is being investigated for ties to white supremacists, was taken into custody at his home in Colville, Washington on March 9, some seven weeks after the bomb was discovered along the parade route in Spokane.

The unattended backpack, with wires visible, was discovered on a downtown bench by three city workers who notified police about 30 minutes before the parade was scheduled to begin, the FBI said. The device in the backpack was largely concealed by two T-shirts packed inside.

The January 17 parade in Spokane, on the national holiday honoring the slain African-American civil rights leader and attended by about 1,500 people, was quickly rerouted while the city's bomb disposal unit was summoned and neutralized the device.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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