The Associated Press

Jury finds case linking men to IRA 'largely circumstantial'

TUCSON — Six men were found innocent of all charges Tuesday in an alleged plot to buy 2,900 explosive detonators and ship them to the Irish Republican Army.

Brannigan. "It was a political witch hunt."

began deliberating Friday, left the court without speaking to reporters.

that's the way the jury system works," U.S. Attorney Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

government's case largely circumstantial a point that Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Miskell conceded in his closing argument. None of the six were alleged to have been present at the purchase of the detonators in 1989.

testified that he and Kevin McKinley bought 2,900 detonators from a mining supply company in 1989. They repacked the detonators into boxes and shipped them from Tucson to New York by Greyhound bus, Jameson said.

testimony about circumstantial evidence, including dozens of wiretapped telephone conversations and other recorded comments involving the defendants and other alleged co-conspirators. The cryptic conversations didn't obviously mention the alleged conspiracy, but prosecutors said they used code words for the weapons.

link all but one of the defendants to alleged plots to buy a shoulder-fired Stinger missile and .50-caliber sniper rifles.

Thomas Maguire, 37, New York, Brannigan, 33, New York, all citizens of Northern Ireland who have resident alien status in the United States; Denis Leyne, 56, born in the Irish Republic and a resident alien in Toronto; John Lynch, 46, Sebastian, Fla., and William Kelly, 54, Fort Pierce, Fla.

Ireland but deny involvement with the IRA. The American-born pair deny knowing the others.

went to excess based on some stereotype of the Irish community and Irish culture," said attorney Stephen Somerstein, who represents Leyne.

Roll limited the scope of the trial to keep out testimony about the bloody history of political strife in Northern Ireland.

Earlier in the eightweek trial, Roll acquitted Moley on all but one conspiracy count.

been charged in the case, including three who remain at large, and two who are in custody overseas.

Seamus Moley, a brother of Patrick Moley, were arrested in Florida in 1990 and convicted in federal court of trying to buy a Stinger missile from undercover agents. They are to stand trial in Arizona later on the detonator charges, but not the conspiracy count. Read Next Article