[Ppnews] National Lawyers Guild Statement Opposing Grand Jury Abuse

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Jan 12 08:00:07 EST 2008

Sent: Fri, 11 Jan 2008 3:52 pm
Subject: National Lawyers Guild Statement Opposing Grand Jury Abuse


Originally designed as a Constitutional protection against
unsubstantiated charges, the federal grand jury has long been
recognized as an investigatory tool of the Justice Department and
evolved into a mechanism of repression and abuse. At the request of
a prosecutor, a grand jury can summon anyone to appear and testify
for virtually any reason. Participation in, or even knowledge of,
criminal activity is not necessary. A grand jury meets in secret,
with only the grand jurors, the prosecutor and law enforcement
present. A witness may not bring his or her attorney into the room.
A witness may not object to questions on the ground that they are
not relevant to any legitimate investigation. If a witness refuses
to answer a question, even in a good faith belief that it is
improper, he or she is subject to imprisonment for civil or
criminal contempt.

Federal grand juries have long been used to gather information on
legitimate political activities, including, since the 1930's, the
Puerto Rican independence movement. Changes in grand jury secrecy
laws after 9/11 permit, in many circumstances, disclosure of
information gathered by a grand jury to federal law enforcement,
including the FBI, for use in their own intelligence gathering. We
know from documents obtained from the FBI in the 1970's and 1980's
that the agency had a decades-long program, known as the
counterintelligence program, that was designed to "neutralize" the
Puerto Rican Independence Movement and its supporters.

The subpoenas served on the three young Puerto Rican artists and
community workers to appear before a federal grand jury in Brooklyn
must be viewed in light the documented history of grand jury abuse.

It is not a crime to demand that the United States government
withdraw from Vieques, to advocate for Puerto Rican independence,
or just to be active in your community. The National Lawyers Guild,
New York City Chapter calls upon the United States Justice
Department to withdraw the subpoenas and to cease all activities,
including grand jury investigations, that repress and/or intimidate
lawful political movements.

Dated: New York, New York For More Information:
January 10, 2008 Bob Boyle 212-431-0229

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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