[Ppnews] Oregon Eco-Sabotage Cases: Government Informant Expected to Receive Minimal Sentence

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 26 10:49:06 EDT 2007


<http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2007/10/367348.shtml>http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2007/10/367348.shtml

For Immediate Release: October 25, 2007
Contact: Lauren Regan, Civil Liberties Defense Center, 541-687-9180

Civil Rights Outreach Committee

Final Sentencing in Oregon Eco-Sabotage Cases

Government Informant and Most Persistent Arsonist 
Expected to Receive Minimal Sentence

Eugene, OR - On Friday, October 26, at 1:30 pm in 
Eugene's federal court, U.S. District Court Judge 
Ann Aiken will sentence Jacob "Jake" Ferguson, 
the government's lead informant in the Oregon 
"Operation Backfire" cases. Ferguson is a 
self-admitted arsonist who participated in 
setting over a dozen fires. Ferguson is scheduled 
to enter a change of plea to only one charge of 
arson and sentencing will follow. The government 
is recommending that Ferguson be sentenced to no 
jail time at all, no financial fines or 
restitution, but simply to serve a brief period 
of probation. Judge Aiken previously sentenced 
other defendants in these cases to between three 
and 13 years in federal prison. Many of the other 
defendants were also given a "terrorism 
enhancement," even though none of the arsons 
resulted in any injuries or loss of life.

In the previous cases, the federal government 
revealed that Ferguson was a major planner and 
participant in 16 arsons and other acts of 
sabotage. In a deal worked out with the 
government, Ferguson is being charged with one 
count of arson and is expected to receive only 
probation, no jail or prison time. Instead, 
Ferguson is believed to receive approximately 
$150,000 for his informant work for the 
government, though government sources rarely if 
ever divulge what they actually paid their informants.

"Instead of focusing on bringing solid 
prosecutions of actual terrorists that want to 
kill Americans, the U.S. government has focused 
instead on prosecuting enviro-saboteurs that were 
trying to highlight the need for urgent action to 
address planetary environmental emergencies, and 
whose actions injured not one person," said 
Alejandro Queral, executive director of the 
Portland-based Northwest Constitutional Rights Center.

The government has consistently tried to punish 
these crimes differently for political reasons at 
a significant cost to our civil liberties and 
constitutional protections. Soon after 
indictments were made public, then-U.S. Attorney 
General Alberto Gonzales issued statements that 
those charged of environmentally motivated 
sabotage were "terrorists." No other arson crimes 
have resulted in the federal government labeling 
the defendants as federal terrorists — even in 
cases where human life was lost — unlike in any 
of the "Green Scare" cases. In comparison, the 
average sentences for greed-motivated or 
vindictive arsons are much shorter. Recently a 
woman in Lane County who viciously destroyed and 
then burned her neighbor's house to the ground was given only 60 days in jail.

Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense 
Center in Eugene is concerned about the lessons 
that the federal government is teaching citizens 
in this case. "If you commit dozens of crimes, 
and are a serious criminal, become a federal 
informant, blame others for your crimes — even if 
the information you provide turns out to be 
completely false — and the justice system will 
not only let you go without punishment, but will 
pay you in tax dollars for your crimes."

Anyone concerned with civil liberties and justice 
should be scrutinizing the government's 
motivations and actions in thsse cases.



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