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Treasury Department behind freezing Palestinian human rights activist’s family bank accounts

Call-in campaign to Office of Foreign Assets Control announced
By staff |
May 9, 2011
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Hatem Abudayyeh speaking at April 9, 2011 anti-war protest in New York City
Hatem Abudayyeh speaking at April 9, 2011 anti-war protest in New York City. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago, IL - More information trickled out to the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) and Chicago’s Coalition for People’s Rights (CPR), May 9, about the previous week’s freezing of the Abudayyeh family’s bank accounts. The family and supporters learned that entity behind the freeze is the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

On May 6, Hatem Abudayyeh and his wife Naima found that they could not use their ATM card. The couple, who have a five-year old daughter, spent the Mother’s Day weekend in limbo. Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 activists in the Midwest subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Chicago since September 2010. Abudayyeh - a community organizer - along with the other 22 anti-war and international solidarity activists, refused to testify, recognizing that the U.S. government was starting another McCarthy-style witch hunt, trying to get organizers to testify against their movements.

According to a statement issued by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and Chicago’s Coalition for People’s Rights, “Supporters of the Abudayyehs and the other 22 activists have learned that apparently OFAC can block your assets pending an investigation on charges of ‘material support for a foreign terrorist organization’ without a hearing. No evidence is required to freeze assets. In the case of the Abudayyeh family, assets mean money for food and rent. As this statement is written, officials won’t even acknowledge that they are the source of the freeze.”

People across the country and the world are taking action. On the morning of May 9, hundreds called the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor behind the grand jury. Late in the afternoon of May 9, after learning what agency was behind the bank account freeze, organizers issued an action alert to make calls to the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control May 9 and 10. The demands for both call-ins are the same: “Unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family. Stop repression against Palestinian, anti-war and international solidarity activists.”

Since an FBI agent infiltrated the anti-war and international solidarity activists’ groups in 2008, there have been no charges or indictments. However, the most recent statement by CSFR and CPR notes, “The freezing of the Abudayyeh family's bank accounts suggests that the danger of indictments is imminent.”

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