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Anti-War Activists to Refuse to Testify to Grand Jury

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/10/05-8 Tuesday, October 5, 2010 by the
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2010
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/10/05-8
      Tuesday, October 5, 2010 by the Associated Press
      Anti-War Activists Whose Homes Were Raided To Refuse Orders To Testify
      by Michael Tarm

      CHICAGO - Anti-war activists whose homes or offices were raided as part
      of an FBI terrorism funding investigation will refuse to testify before
      a grand jury as ordered, in a show of defiance that could land them in jail.

      Attorneys for the 14 activists called to testify have coordinated their
      responses since the Sept. 24 raids and have agreed their clients won't
      testify, Melinda Power, an attorney for a Chicago couple whose home was
      searched, said Tuesday. Agents searched seven homes and one office in
      Minneapolis and Chicago.

      "They feel grand juries are now, and have historically been, a tool of
      harassment against activists", Power said.

      Some of the anti-war activists won't testify because they don't want to
      be complicit in what they see as an attempt to stifle freedom of speech
      and assembly, said Jess Sundin, whose Minnesota home was raided.

      "We feel like the reason we're being called and we're being looked into
      is because of our very legitimate and constitutionally protected work in
      the anti-war movement," she said.

      About 50 peace activists protested Tuesday outside of the Dirksen
      Federal Building in Chicago, where the grand jury was to convene.

      "We will not be silent," Stephanie Weiner told protesters. She and her
      husband, Joe Iosbaker, were the two activists whose home was raided in
      Chicago.

      Some subpoenas ordered activists to appear before Oct. 5. Sundin, who
      was subpoenaed to appear on Oct. 12, said activists sent separate
      letters to prosecutors indicating they do not intend to testify.

      Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago,
      declined to comment about the case.

      Some legal observers say the activists could go to jail.

      "There's no chance prosecutors will just let it slide if they keep
      refusing," said Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago attorney with no link to the case.

      As a next step, the government could reissue subpoenas - possibly this
      time with an offer of immunity. If the activists decline to appear then,
      a judge could hold them in contempt.

      A key issue is whether any of the activists are targets of prosecutors
      or whether prosecutors merely consider them witnesses against another
      primary target.

      Just after the raids, FBI spokesman Steve Warfield said the bureau was
      seeking evidence related to "activities concerning the material support
      of terrorism."

      But Sundin said no one has told activists who is or isn't the focus of
      the investigation. She said that puts them all in jeopardy of
      self-incrimination, she said.

      "It's just you, and the prosecutor and the jury (at the grand jury
      proceedings)," Sundin said. "So it is a very precarious situation for
      anyone to put themselves in."

      Meredith Aby, a Minnesotan who was subpoenaed to testify Tuesday but did
      not make the trip to Chicago, also said the grand-jury process was unfair.

      "I think they are an incredibly repressive and undemocratic tactic," she
      said.

      Someone who is a target can refuse to testify under their Fifth
      Amendment right against self-incrimination without risking a contempt
      charge, Pissetzky said. If they are granted immunity, however, a grand
      jury witness is required to answer questions, he said.

      Activists who have spoken with reporters have denied giving money to
      terrorist groups.

      The homes of two other longtime Minneapolis anti-war activists, Mick
      Kelly and Meredith Aby, were also among those searched last month.

      The warrant for Kelly's home sought evidence on travel he did as part of
      his work for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and information on
      any travel to Colombia, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria or
      Israel.

      Two groups use the name Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one based
      in Chicago and one in New York. They split several years ago, and the
      New York group said it was not targeted.

      Kelly's subpoena also commanded him to bring records he might have
      relating to the Middle East and Colombia, along with records of any
      payment provided to Hatem Abudayyeh.

      The subpoena did not further identify Abudayyeh, but FightBack! has
      interviewed and carried articles by a Hatem Abudayyeh who's the
      executive director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network.

      Abudayyeh did not answer his office phone Tuesday and a recorded message
      said the voicemail was full. A message left on his cell voicemail was
      not returned. Several activists said their cell phones had been
      confiscated by the FBI.

      Associated Press Writer Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this
      report.

      --
      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
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      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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