Grand Jury Hearing Tuesday for Nine More Anti-War, International Solidarity Activists
All nine subpoenaed activists expected to invoke their constitutional rights & refuse to testify
Chicago, IL -- Nine new Chicago-based anti-war and international solidarity activists who were subpoenaed in December to a federal grand here jury are scheduled to testify Tuesday. However, similarly to the 14 subpoenaed activists who preceded them, the nine are also expected to invoke their constitutional rights and refuse to answer questions. This resistance to grand jury questioning is in response to what activists are calling harassment and intimidation of the anti-war movement, and will coincide on Tuesday with a national day of protests in more than 40 cities across the U.S.
This latest grand jury hearing stems from a series of FBI raids conducted on September 24th of last year targeting the homes and offices of several prominent anti-war and international solidarity activists in Chicago, Minneapolis and Grand Rapids. More than 70 federal agents took part in the raids, seizing boxes of documents, computers, cell phones, passports, and other personal property. No indictments were issued, but 14 activists were subpoenaed to the Chicago grand jury in October, all of whom refused to testify. There are now a total of 23 people who have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.
Search warrants and subpoenas indicate the FBI is seeking evidence related to "material support of terrorism." The activists and their lawyers believe the government is attempting to use a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, to expand the enforcement of federal "material support" statutes. The raids sparked protests across the country, and activists have responded by forming the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, a large coalition made up of more than 200 anti-war, international solidarity, labor, human rights, and legal groups.
"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." Another subpoenaed activist, Tom Burke, has stated 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."
Earlier this month, the prosecutor revealed that the case relies on an undercover FBI agent used to infiltrate the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee (AWC), one of the targeted groups. The agent, under the name "Karen Sullivan," joined the AWC in April 2008 and actively assisted in the planning to protest at the Republican National Convention (RNC) that year in St. Paul. In 2009, "Sullivan" joined the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and, according to activists, sabotaged a solidarity trip to Palestine. The FBI spying was condemned by activists, but is only the latest revelation in an unsettling level of police and FBI infiltration that has come to light since the RNC in 2008.
In November, three of the original 14 subpoenaed activists who refused to testify were notified that their subpoenas would be reissued, but so far have not been called back to the grand jury. This move by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is overseeing the case, indicates that the government may offer immunity to 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 jail time 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.
For more information on the Chicago grand jury: http://StopFBI.net/