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Patty Hearst: Ready To Testify

An undated photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Kenneth John Freeman.
AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service
Patty Hearst said Tuesday that Sara Jane Olson and members of the Symbionese Liberation Army charged with murder in a 1970s bank robbery had their "own little jihad" going, adding she is ready and willing to testify against them.

The kidnapped newspaper heiress, who turned SLA bank robber, told CNN's Larry King that she believed Olson, Bill and Emily Harris, Michael Bortin and James Kilgore were "extremely dedicated revolutionaries who wanted to bring down the country."

"They wanted to overthrow the government of the United States. They called themselves an army. They planned on forming cells and going on until they started a full-scale war in this country," Hearst said.

At one point during the hour-long interview, she compared the SLA to the bombers of the Oklahoma City Federal Building and the violent 1960s Charles Manson cult.

"Charles Manson wanted to start a war too," she said, recalling how the mass murderer had his followers scrawl words in blood at one of their crime scenes hoping to trigger a race war.

Emily Harris' attorney, Stuart Hanlon, denounced Hearst's remarks, saying she was trying to ensure his client and the others would not get a fair trial.

"It seems that all she does is minimize her own actions and her own responsibility," he said. "When you've lied for this long, the reality has gotten lost."

On Friday, Olson was arraigned on murder and robbery charges stemming from the 1975 holdup of a suburban Sacramento bank in which Myrna Opsahl, a bystander, was killed. Also charged were the Harrises, Bortin and Kilgore.

Hearst, who announced weeks after her 1974 kidnapping that she had joined her captors, maintained she was brainwashed by the group that carried her away from her Berkeley apartment in the middle of the night.

She appeared forceful and composed during the interview, a sharp contrast to the tearful, breathless witness who testified on her own behalf at her SLA bank robbery trial in the 1970s. She was convicted of armed bank robbery then and a judge sentenced her to seven years in prison. She served about two years before President Carter commuted her sentence. Last year, President Clinton pardoned her.

Hearst has two daughters, 20 and 17, and has pursued an acting career. She said her actions in the 1970s seem very far away now.

"I've lived my entire adult life haunted by what happened," she said. "But I had to get on with my life."

Hearst said repeatedly that she was ready to testify and that it would bring her closure.

"There's a hopefulness I feel to see it come to a conclusion," she said. "This is not a happy situation. But there is a feeling of relief. Something is finally happening with these people."

By Linda Deutsch © MMII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed