Thursday, May 13, 2010

FBI visits David Pellow (Scott’s Demuth's advisor) and others

Recently, the FBI visited David Pellow, Scott’s
advisor. David has been a vocal supporter of
Scott and of academic freedom. When the FBI got
wind of a freedom-loving individual in town, they
just had to come a knockin’. David decided not to
speak to them­and that’s good! Remember, never
speak to the FBI or any law enforcement officers.
Speak to your lawyer instead.

The FBI has also visited two other people
recently and attempted to question them about
Scott. Have we mentioned that it’s never a good idea to talk to the feds?

If you’re visited, remember not to talk to them
but to your lawyer. And let us know too at
scottandcarrie [at] riseup [dot] net.

Below is a statement from David:

“Scott DeMuth is one of my advisees here at the
University of Minnesota. He is a bright, hard
working graduate student who has become ensnared
in a federal investigation that has left him with
the possibility of facing several years in jail
related to conspiracy and terrorism charges (his
trial begins this fall). The federal government
is building a case against him because they
believe he has knowledge of at least two Animal
Liberation Front actions that occurred in Iowa
and Minnesota in 2004 and 2006, respectively. The
U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case has also made
it clear that he believes Scott is guilty because
he is an anarchist and is believed to be
associated with activists who are earth and
animal liberation advocates. Scott has indeed
worked to educate the public about issues
concerning eco-prisoners and other political
prisoners in the United States. He has also
worked for years advocating for the rights of
Dakota peoples, who have been dispossessed of
their homelands by military force. And he has
done impressive sociological research on these
social movements and presented his work at
professional conferences. He and I have recently
begun collaborating on a research project that
focuses on many of these issues. So when the
government came knocking on my door I took notice.

“Monday, April 6, 2010: This morning when I
arrived at my place of employment­the University
of Minnesota­I went straight to my mailbox. There
was the usual pile of academic junk
mail­catalogues from publishers, invitations to
receptions, etc. But there was something else
this time: a business card with a post-it
attached to it that read: “re: student, Pellow,
04/06/10, 9:15am.” The business card was for a
Steve Molesky, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of
Investigation, Minneapolis Division. He also left
a voice message for me in my office that stated
that he wanted to “interview” me in the next day
or so. He didn’t say about what, but the post-it
from the receptionist offered an indication (“re: student”).

“I immediately called several trusted lawyer
colleagues, read the NLG’s “Operation Backfire”
guide, and spoke with activists here in the Twin
Cities community, all of whom suggested I not
talk to the feds. My view on the matter is that I
am Scott’s advisor and as such, I should be
looking out for him and advocating for him, so
talking to people who are trying to build a case
against him is probably not in his best interest.
One person also pointed out that given Assistant
U.S. Attorney Clifford Cronk’s characterization
of me during Scott DeMuth’s arraignment in
November 2009 as someone who left him a voice
mail message protesting Scott’s detention and
criticizing grand juries, it’s likely that they
already have formed a certain opinion of me. One
of my lawyer colleagues told me that by law I
have the right not to talk to the FBI, but if I
do then be courteous. My own attorney added that
if they persist then I might ask them to send me
their questions in written form and that I would run them by counsel.

“Wednesday, April 8, 2010: Agent Molesky called
my home phone today and left a message that
clearly was directed toward asking questions
about Scott’s research and my own research. He
stated: “I’d like to ask you a couple of
questions about one of your students you are the
advisor for at the University, Scott DeMuth. I’d
like to ask you a couple of questions about the
research that you do and the research that he
does for you.” I then followed up with a request
for a detailed list of questions.

“Thursday, April 9, 2010: Agent Molesky replied,
‘I recognize and understand your request,
however, I will probably be unable to satisfy it;
not because I don’t want to but because I can
not. I have been asked to interview you by our
office in Cedar Rapids, IA. With their request
they did not include a specific list of
questions. When we conduct interviews, it is more
an art than a science, meaning that except for a
few questions, I never have scripted questions
for an interview–the answers, demeanor, and
posture of the interviewee normally dictate the
questions I ask and the direction in which the
interview moves.’ He continued, ‘I will be asking
you about any human research studies that you are
conducting in which Scott DeMuth may be
participating as study personnel. I will also be
querying you on your contacts and relationship
with Peter Young that may be relevant to the DeMuth investigation.’

“After receiving Agent Steven Molesky’s email
message today, I spoke with my attorney and we
decided that Molesky was firmly within the realm
of infringing upon academic freedom. Thus I have
decided not to grant the interview request. To
speak to Agent Molesky about my research at the
level of detail indicated above would very likely
violate the American Sociological Association’s
Code of Ethics, which states: ‘Sociologists have
an obligation to protect confidential information
and not allow information gained in confidence
from being used in ways that would unfairly
compromise research participants, students,
employees, clients, or others.’ ‘Confidential
information provided by research participants,
students, employees, clients, or others is
treated as such by sociologists even if there is
no legal protection or privilege to do so.’
(Section 11.01). The Code of Ethics also states,
‘Sociologists do not disclose confidential,
personally identifiable information concerning
their research participants, other recipients of
their service which is obtained during the course
of their work.’ (Section 11.06).

“I appreciate Agent Molesky’s polite and cordial
approach to this process, but I cannot and will
not violate the trust relationship that I have
with my advisee and colleague Scott DeMuth and
with the participants in my research study.

“- David N. Pellow, Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota”

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