[Ppnews] Nadia Winstead - Animal Rights Activist Found in Contempt

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Nov 18 12:37:24 EST 2006

Grand Jury Resistance Project
For Immediate Release: October 17, 2006
Contact: Kris Hermes 510-836-0395

Animal Rights Activist Found in Civil Contempt for Refusing to Testify
before Federal Grand Jury

San Francisco federal judge Susan Illston stayed her contempt order for two
weeks pending filing  of Ninth Circuit appeal

San Francisco -- Animal rights activist Nadia Winstead was found in civil
contempt today by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston for invoking her
constitutional rights and refusing to testify before a federal grand jury.
Winstead’s attorney, Mark Goldrosen, immediately requested that Winstead be
released on her own recognizance pending an appeal that will be filed with
the Ninth Circuit Court. Instead, judge Illston stayed enforcement of the
contempt order for two weeks to allow Winstead to file the appeal.

The ruling came after activists gathered in front of the federal courthouse
to rally against the use of grand juries as a tactic by government to
suppress dissent. Normally, grand jury proceedings are secret and closed to
the public, but a crowded courtroom of supporters were able to observe
Winstead defend herself, as is her right, against the federal government’s
charge of civil contempt. Winstead had previously been denied a motion to
compel the government to reveal whether unlawful electronic surveillance
was used to obtain information included in her subpoena.

“The tactic of using grand juries to intimidate movements for social change
has a long history in the United States,” said Samantha Levens of the Grand
Jury Resistance Project, a coalition in support of targeted activists. “It
remains important today to shine a bright light on the efforts by the
government to intimidate and jail committed activists.”

The current grand jury, to which at least two activists have been
subpoenaed, is the second grand jury within two years investigating the
same matter: the “possible concealment” of a suspect being sought in
connection with two actions from 2003 aimed at local pharmaceutical
companies with ties to Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal-testing lab that
is the target of an international animal rights campaign. In the first
grand jury in 2005, eleven activists, including Winstead, were subpoenaed.
At the time, Winstead and others refused to testify.

Independent journalist Josh Wolf remains in jail as a result of a civil
contempt ruling after he refused to provide unpublished video footage of a
July 2005 anti-G8 protest to a federal grand jury in San Francisco. After
losing his appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court, Wolf has remained in prison
since September 22. The federal grand jury to which Wolf was subpoenaed
convened in early 2006 to investigate alleged damage to a police car that
supposedly occurred during the protests. Wolf could be imprisoned until
July 2007.

Information compiled by the Grand Jury Resistance Project (GJRP), a
coalition that provides education on politically motivated attacks by
government and support to people targeted by these attacks, shows that
grand juries are currently being used against environmental and animal
rights activists, as well as groups that have historically struggled for
self-determination. The GJRP reports that in the past year, at least 66
individuals have been subpoenaed or indicted in Atlanta, Denver, Eugene,
Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Tampa and Trenton. At least fourteen
people have refused to testify before recent grand juries, and some were
jailed for contempt. The GJRP believes that these grand juries are part of
the same broad and unconstitutional federal investigation into various
political movements that oppose U.S. policies.

# # #

For more information, refer to the following websites:

Claude Marks
Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977

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