[Ppnews] Journalist Sarah Olson needs our support

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 19 08:51:45 EST 2007


http://www.freepresswg.org/

Sarah Olson, a reporter for Truthout received a 
subpoena in December to testify in the 
court-martial of First Lt. Ehren Watada, the 
first commissioned officer to refuse deployment 
to Iraq. The subpoena is to compel Olson to 
testify that Watada made statements against the 
war to her that the military has deemed conduct 
unbecoming an officer. This case has chilling 
repercussions for the integrity of journalism and 
free speech. Olson is in urgent need of support, 
please see below for details. In a statement 
explaining why she will not testify, Olson points out that,

“It is stunningly ironic that the Army seeks my 
testimony ­ the testimony of a journalist ­ in a 
case against free speech itself. What could be 
more hostile to the idea of a free press than a 
journalist participating in the suppression of newsworthy speech?”

Olson goes on,

“It seems clear that the U.S. Army is attempting 
to redefine the parameters of acceptable speech 
and to classify dissent as a punishable offense. 
Subpoenaing journalists in this case 
unequivocally sends the message that dissent is 
neither tolerated nor permitted. Utilize your 
constitutionally guaranteed speech rights and go 
to prison. What rational soldier would agree to 
speak with me or any other member of the media if jail was a likely result?

When the press cannot or does not reflect the 
vibrant and varied perspectives within our 
society, it is reduced to a simple transcriber of 
government press releases. The record of existing 
dissent is erased, and a dumbed-down, homogenized 
version of “The American Experience” is all that’s left in its place.”

There is now a 
<http://www.freepresswg.org/>website set up to 
cover Olson’s case where you can learn more and 
make donations to help defray her legal costs. 
Olson is also asking people to send letters to 
the commanding general at Ft. Lewis and to Robert Gates. The addresses are:

Lt. Gen. James Dubik
Commanding General
Fort Lewis and I Corps
Bldg 2025 Stop 1
Fort Lewis WA 98433
Honorable Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301

Fianlly, Olson is asking for signatures on the following statement:

We, the undersigned journalists, academics, artists
and citizens, object to the Army’s decision to
subpoena independent journalist and radio producer
Sarah Olson and Honolulu Star Bulletin reporter Greg
Kakesako, to testify in the court-martial of 1st Lt.
Ehren Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to
deploy to Iraq. We are further disturbed by the Army’s
decision to add independent journalist Dahr Jamail and
videographer Sari Gelzer to the prosecution’s witness
list.

It’s a journalist’s job to report the news, not to
participate in government prosecutions of political
speech. The press cannot function if it is used by the
government, and hauling a journalist into a military
court erodes the separation between government and
press. Turning reporters into the investigative arm of
the government subverts press freedoms and chills
dissenting speech in the United States. The press must
preserve its ability to cover all aspects of a debate,
not just the perspectives popular with the current
administration. We believe a journalist’s duty is to
the public and their right to know, not to the
government.

In the name of the cornerstone values this nation
claims to uphold and for which the men and women in
the military are fighting, we ask that you end to your
insistence that journalists participate in the
court-martial of Lt. Watada. We need more information,
participation, and debate ­ inside and outside the
military ­ not less. As the LA Times argued in its
January 8th editorial: “It’s time for the Army to back
off.”

You can sign the statement by sending an email to 
Sarah Olson at solson75 at yahoo.com indicating your 
support. Very important­do this TODAY, Sarah needs these letters by Jan. 19th!

FROM THE WOMEN'S DESK OF THE NATIONAL RADIO PROJECT:

Sarah Olson has been a key correspondent for 
Making Contact since 2002, covering many issues 
including War Resisters, Reproductive Justice and 
Women’s Health, Death Penalty, and Immigration. 
She was a mentor in the Welfare Radio Collaborative.

  We join Sarah in the fight against this attack 
on journalists and anti-war voices.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
www.freedomarchives.org  
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