Police respond to 770 , Jan. 9, 2024.
Police respond to 770 , Jan. 9, 2024.Reuters/Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu

A group of thirteen young Hasidic Jews were indicted yesterday (Wednesday) for building the tunnel discovered under the historic 770 synagogue in Crown Heights.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include obstruction of a government administration and criminal mischief, a federal felony.

The judge ordered the defendants to turn over their passports so they could not leave the country but refused the prosecution's request to bar them from the synagogue they vandalized.

Several of the defendants are currently in Israel. Their lawyer stated that they are also prepared to respond to the charges.

In December, it was discovered that a group of 18-21-year-old men had illegally dug a tunnel underneath the synagogue which serves as the Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

The tunnel stretched for 60 feet and was eight feet wide, five feet tall, and threatened the structural stability of two nearby buildings.

The diggers used simple tools and bare hands only, and put the dirt into their pockets to avoid other members of the congregation noticing the tunnel.

Drama surrounding the tunnel drew international attention after bedlam broke out at the complex’s synagogue upon the discovery of the tunnel. Videos posted online showed Hasidim clashing with police at the synagogue and rising out of the sewers to escape.