Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Anti-war, International Solidarity Activists Refuse to Cooperate with Grand Jury

Grand Jury Resistance Project
For Immediate Release: October 6, 2010
Contact: Kris Hermes 510-681-6361 /

Anti-war, International Solidarity Activists Refuse to Cooperate with
Grand Jury
As activists thwart attempts to harass & intimidate, government must
decide whether to grant immunity

Chicago, IL -- Several anti-war and international solidarity
activists announced their refusal yesterday to testify before a grand
jury convened in Chicago, allegedly investigating "material support"
of groups the federal government has designated as "terrorists." The
first of a set of hearings was scheduled to start October 5th, but
the government withdrew the subpoenas in response to activists
asserting their Fifth Amendment right, and now must consider whether
to offer them immunity. According to the Associated Press, all of the
14 activists subpoenaed within the past two weeks are refusing to
testify, a considerable setback for the federal government.

"We believe we have been targeted because of what we believe, what we
say and who we know," said Stephanie Weiner, one of the subpoenaed
activists refusing to cooperate with the grand jury. Denouncing the
government's use of the grand jury as a "fishing expedition," and an
attempt to intimidate activists, Weiner told a crowd rallying
yesterday in front of the Dirksen Federal Building that "we will not
be silent." Rallies were held yesterday in Chicago, Minneapolis and
other U.S. cities to protest what activists are calling a "witch hunt."

Weiner and her husband, Joe Iosbaker, were among several members of
the Freedom Road Socialist Organization whose homes and offices were
raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago and
Minneapolis on September 24th. Additional activists have been
questioned by the FBI in California, Michigan, North Carolina and
Wisconsin as part of the same investigation. The FBI seized
computers, cell phones, organizational paperwork, and other personal
items in the raids.

On the same day as the FBI raids, and on the following Monday, the
federal government issued a total of 14 subpoenas to compel activists
to testify before a federal grand jury, ostensibly investigating
connections between anti-war and international solidarity activists,
and groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
Hezbollah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,
which are designated "terrorist" organizations by the U.S. government.

International solidarity activists believe that the government is
attempting to use a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Holder v.
Humanitarian Law Project, to derail and criminalize their efforts to
support the liberation of Colombian and Palestinian people.
Historically, the government has chosen to prosecute individuals and
organizations that provide monetary support to groups designated as
"terrorists," but the Humanitarian Law Project ruling interprets
"material support" to even include political speech.

"Grand juries have been used for decades by the federal government as
a tool of political repression," said Kris Hermes of the Grand Jury
Resistance Project. "Grand juries conduct secret investigations,
deprive legal counsel to those subpoenaed, and can jail you for
refusing to testify," continued Hermes. "There is no place for
politically motivated grand juries in a democratic society."

If the government chooses to offer immunity to the subpoenaed
activists, and they still refuse to testify they can be charged with
civil or criminal contempt. If found guilty of civil contempt,
activists could be jailed up to the length of the grand jury,
typically 18 months, in an attempt to coerce their testimony. A
charge of criminal contempt, however, can result in a far longer
sentence, the length of which is left to the court's discretion.

For more information on these cases, see:

1 comment:

rosswolfe said...

I'm really not so sure that the Left should be rushing to declare solidarity with these activists. On account of this, I wrote a leftist critique of the unquestioning support the activists seem to have received so far.