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Californian Accused of Threatening to Kill Congressman

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Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A 32-year-old California man was arrested for threatening to kill U.S. Representative Jim McDermott, his friends and family, federal prosecutors said.

Charles Turner Habermann, of Palm Springs, was arrested today by FBI agents, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in Seattle. He’s accused of making two “expletive-laden, threatening phone calls” to the Seattle office of McDermott, a Washington Democrat, on Dec. 9, according to the statement.

“We are blessed to live in a country that guarantees and protects the freedom to disagree with our government and speak our minds,” Durkan said in the statement. “That protection, however, does not extend to threats or acts of violence.”

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was shot through the head Jan. 8 in Tucson, Arizona, in a shooting rampage that left six people dead, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. The suspect in that attack, Jared Lee Loughner, is in custody and could face the death penalty.

Habermann’s threats to McDermott came after he saw the congressman on television, according to the U.S. attorney’s statement. He made the threats to intimidate and to interfere with McDermott’s vote on the tax-cut proposal before Congress last month, according to the statement.

If convicted, he faces as long as 10 years in prison for threatening a federal official.

The court docket didn’t list a lawyer for Habermann. Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for Durkan, didn’t immediately return a call to her office,

The case is U.S. v. Habermann, 11-16, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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