JERUSALEM — An Illinois man who faces charges in Israel of plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem calls the allegations "nonsense," his lawyer said Wednesday.
Israeli authorities indicted Everett Adam Livvix, 30, a man they said once posed as an ex-U.S. Navy SEAL, on weapons charges stemming from the alleged plot. Israeli police said Livvix also turned down an offer from a Palestinian to assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama during the leader's visit to the Holy Land in 2013.
The charges represent a major change for Livvix, who went by Adam in Israel and back home in Robinson, Illinois. There, he faced a variety of charges spanning from marijuana possession to the theft of a lawn mower, Crawford County Sheriff Bill Rutan said.
"You just don't know how people are going to turn out," Rutan said.
Livvix's lawyer in Israel, Gal Wolf, said his client was held for eight days without access to a lawyer following his arrest last month, although he said U.S. Embassy officials did see him. Wolf said Livvix underwent "extended interrogations" by Israeli security services and that he is being kept separate from other prisoners.
"He categorically denies the charges in the indictment," Wolf said. "He says it is nonsense."
Wolf said he last saw Livvix on Monday and described his mood as "down." He said that Livvix may have "psychological issues" that need assessing and could come into play during his trial. Israel's Justice Ministry said Livvix underwent a psychiatric evaluation Tuesday, but Wolf said results had not yet been released.
Wolf said Livvix was living with a fiancee when he was arrested. He did not identify the woman but said she was also an American citizen. He did not know if they arrived to Israel together or met here.
Israel indicted Livvix on Monday on charges of illegal weapon possession and overstaying his visa by more than a year. Operating in cooperation with Israel's Shin Bet security service, police went to arrest Livvix last month at his 7th-floor apartment, the ministry said, but he initially tried to escape by leaping down to a patio on the floor below.
Livvix, who said he was a former Navy SEAL, was asked by an unnamed Palestinian to assassinate Obama with a sniper rifle during the president's March 2013 visit to the region, Israeli police said. Livvix declined, but the FBI ended up involved in the case investigating his actions, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Later that year, Livvix entered Israel, the Justice Ministry said, and told Israeli friends he had strong anti-Arab sentiments. The ministry said Livvix later cooperated with his roommate, a serving soldier in the Israeli military, to obtain 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) of explosive material to blow up the unidentified Jerusalem holy sites. The ministry said police discovered the plot in October.
An Israeli court is expected to decide on Dec. 21 whether to continue to detain Livvix until the conclusion of court proceedings.
Indiana-based bounty hunter Willie Bryant told The Associated Press said he had been tracking that Livvix through various cities in Israel, but was unable to arrest him as he had no authority abroad.
"Evidently, he just went crazy then," Bryant said.
Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Cairo and Tammy Webber in Chicago contributed to this report.