[Ppnews] For now, antiwar activists will not be forced to testify
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 13 01:28:52 EDT 2010
For now, antiwar activists will not be forced to testify
By JAMES WALSH, Star Tribune
October 12, 2010
Thistle Parker-Hartog originally was supposed to
testify before a grand jury in Chicago Tuesday.
She didn't go. Mick Kelly was scheduled to make
the same trip next week. Don't bet on it.
In all, 14 antiwar activists and several
organizations from the Twin Cities and Chicago
who are being investigated for alleged support of
terror groups received subpoenas to appear before
the grand jury this month. All -- including five
who were to appear last week -- have told the
U.S. Department of Justice that they are not
going. Instead, several were among about 60
people gathered in front of the U.S. Courthouse
in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday to protest what
they consider harassment and intimidation because
they oppose U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.
So far, it seems, the Justice Department has
acquiesced. All the subpoenas have been canceled,
according to a Chicago attorney working on the
case. Instead of being encouraged by the
inaction, they are left wondering when the other
shoe is going to fall for a growing number of people under investigation.
"No one knows what will happen. That's sort of
the problem with all this," Parker-Hartog said.
"The net is definitely getting wider. We are
hearing from more of our brothers and sisters
around the country that they, too, are being looked at."
On Sept. 24, the FBI raided the Minneapolis homes
of five antiwar activists, including three
leaders of the Twin Cities peace movement, as
part of what it called a probe of "activities
concerning the material support of terrorism."
The Minneapolis office of an antiwar organization
was also raided, protest leaders said. Raids were
also conducted on two homes in Chicago.
No one was arrested in any of the raids.
Computers, cell phones and documents were seized.
FBI officials said the federal search warrants in
Minneapolis were related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The people whose homes and offices were searched
have denied being involved in any illegal
activities. Meredith Aby of the Anti-War
Committee, whose home and offices were raided,
said Tuesday that the federal government has
"given itself more power since 9/11. The federal
government is doing this, I think, because they can do this."
According to the warrants, the FBI is seeking
travel and financial information regarding the
Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Colombia.
It is against federal law to provide "material
support" to organizations that have been defined
by the U.S. government as terrorist. But
attorneys argue that the law's interpretation can
be dangerously broad. Activists are asking: Who
defines a terror group? What constitutes material support?
Over the past two years, several local men of
Somali descent have been indicted, and some
convicted, for providing material support for
Al-Shabab, an Islamist group fighting for control
of Somalia. Some traveled to Somalia to fight,
some recruited fighters, some allegedly provided money.
Those being investigated in Minneapolis and
Chicago deny doing anything like that in this
case. What happens next is uncertain. The U.S.
attorney in Chicago could reissue subpoenas.
Prosecutors could even grant some of the people
being investigated immunity to prod them to
testify. Everything could be dropped.
All that is known for now, said attorney Jim
Fennerty, is "that nobody is going to appear before the grand jury."
James Walsh 612-673-7428
© 2010 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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