Three Anti-war, International Solidarity Activists Called Back to Chicago Grand Jury
All 14 people subpoenaed have so far refused to testify, condemning politically motivated attacks
Minneapolis, MN -- Three anti-war and international solidarity activists from the Minneapolis area were notified late last week that their subpoenas will be reissued. Sarah Martin, Tracy Molm, and Anh Pham were among 14 activists from Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago after their homes and offices were raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On September 24th, the FBI raided several activists' homes and offices in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Durham, North Carolina, seizing computers, cell phones, organizational paperwork, financial records, and other personal items in what activists are calling a campaign of harassment and intimidation.
"The FBI campaign against anti-war activists is a major threat to anyone who questions U.S. policies around the world," said Mick Kelly of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression in a recent statement. "Many of those who had been targeted in these raids are long-time peace, labor and social justice activists," continued Kelly. Tom Burke, whose home was raided, and who was subpoenaed, said in a statement that the government's tactics are "designed to suppress dissent and free speech, to divide the peace movement, and to pave the way for more U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and Latin America."
Shortly after the September raids, all 14 people subpoenaed chose to invoke their Fifth Amendment Rights by refusing to testify before the grand jury, and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression was formed to support the subpoenaed activists and others targeted by the government. In a strong showing of support, hundreds of activists have protested in more than 60 cities across the country, more than a hundred organizations and prominent activists have issued supportive solidarity statements, and Minnesota Congressional Representative Keith Ellison recently sent a letter of concern to Attorney General Eric Holder.
This latest move by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is overseeing the case, indicates that the government may offer immunity to the three activists in an effort to force them to testify. If the activists continue to refuse to cooperate, they become vulnerable to contempt charges by the government and could face time in jail if convicted, regardless of their involvement in any alleged crime. A number of activists who have taken a principled stand not to cooperate with grand juries have been jailed for contempt over the past few years. The sentence for civil contempt can be up to 18 months, the length of the grand jury. However, the Chicago anti-war federal grand jury may have been convened more than a year ago.
International solidarity activists and attorneys working to counter so-called anti-terrorism laws established in the mid-1990s, and strengthened by the Patriot Act over the past 10 years, believe the government is attempting to use a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, to expand the enforcement of "material support" statutes. Historically, the government has persecuted individuals and organizations engaged mainly in Palestinian, Middle East, and Muslim solidarity efforts, such as in the Somali community in Minnesota, and accused them of providing monetary support to groups the U.S. has unilaterally designated "terrorists." The government now appears to be using the Humanitarian Law Project ruling to test how far it can expand "material support" by targeting the political speech of mostly white, anti-war and international solidarity activists.
The activists most recently targeted are involved with many groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Group, Students for a Democratic Society, the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee, the Colombia Action Network, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Search warrants and subpoenas indicate the government is trying to tie these activists to "terrorist" designated groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hezbollah, in an effort to derail and criminalize support for the liberation of Colombian and Palestinian people.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is planning a week of actions from Monday, November 29th through Friday, December 4th, including protests outside federal buildings and Congressional offices, a national call-in day, and many other solidarity actions.
For further information: http://StopFBI.net/