Defense attorneys criticize investigation of Hawaii terror suspect

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The arrest of a Hawaii soldier accused of trying to help ISIS is drawing criticism from defense attorneys.

Ikaika Erik Kang's lawyer and others said the 34-year-old may be mentally unstable after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed mental health care.

But instead of getting treatment, they said FBI says undercover agents worked with the Schofield Barracks soldier for more than a year as he became more radicalized and eventually pledged his allegiance to the terror group.

"It would appear that Sgt. Kang may suffer from service related mental health issues, which the government was aware of but neglected to treat," said Kang's lawyer Bernie Bervar.

Defense lawyer Earle Partington agreed.

"Instead of getting him medical care, apparently, the FBI carried on with their sting program, dragging this poor soldier deeper and deeper until they can bring very serious federal charges that will keep him in prison probably for the rest of his life," Partington said.

Court documents indicate as many as six FBI undercover agents posed as radical Muslim friends, recording Kang's escalating plans and threats.

READ: Full criminal complaint in the case
MORE: Information on Kang's military service record

Others said Kang's attorney could raise entrapment as a possible defense.

"You just can't press the person too much, you just can't keep egging him on, egging him on, egging him on until finally the person commits the crime that you're trying to charge him with," said Ken Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project.

But federal sources note that Kang made his alleged threats without any coaxing from undercover agents and that he admitted that he tried to send classified documents to terrorist groups.

Kang is next due in court Thursday for a detention hearing, in which the government will likely provide more details on alleged threats he made to public safety.

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