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Chicago U.S. Attorney office confirms ‘investigation is continuing’ against anti-war, international solidarity activists

Holy Land Foundation prosecutor now working on case
By Mick Kelly |
January 31, 2012
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Chicago, IL – The Northern Illinois Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas stated that the “investigation is continuing” into the case of the anti-war and international solidarity activists who have been hit with FBI raids and grand jury repression. Barry Jonas played a leading role in prosecuting the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation while he was trial attorney for the Department of Justice Counter-terrorism Section.

“This is another confirmation of what we have been hearing all along from the U.S. Attorney’s office - they are going for multiple indictments of multiple activists,” stated Jess Sundin, a Twin Cities Anti-War leader whose home was raided by the FBI. “The government subpoenaed 23 international solidarity activists to a Chicago grand jury and the government is trying to jail veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes. Jonas confirmed what we already knew - the government is trying to imprison anti-war activists on the grounds of ‘material support for terrorism.’”

The confirmation of the ongoing investigation came in a Jan. 24 phone call between Jonas and Bruce Nestor, an attorney who is representing some of the activists.

Nestor initially contacted Minneapolis Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter to view some of the sealed documents in the case. The grand jury proceedings against the anti-war activists are secret and the vast majority of documents relating to their case are under seal, meaning that they cannot be viewed by the targeted activists or their attorneys. Assistant U.S. Attorney Winter helped oversee the Sept. 24, 2010 raids and in recent months has represented the government on the issue of returning property seized in the raids. Winter told Nestor to contact Chicago Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas.

Jonas told Nestor the documents would remain secret "pending completion of the investigation."

“That Barry Jonas is now involved in our case is an ominous development” said Sundin. “He is famous for one of the most appalling attacks on civil and democratic rights in the past decade - the prosecution of the Holy Land Five. “

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. Its efforts were geared towards providing humanitarian aid to help the people of Palestine and other countries. In 2001 its offices were raided. Three years later, five people associated with the charity were indicted. The first trial ended with a hung jury. The second trial ended with convictions. The five defendants received sentences that range from 15 to 65 years in prison.

The trial included secret witnesses - the defense never got to find out who the witnesses were - the use of hearsay evidence and the introduction of evidence that had nothing to do with the defendants in the case, such as showing a video from Palestine of protesters burning an American flag, as a means to prejudice the jury.

As lead prosecutor, Barry Jonas played a key role in all this. He is now working under Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who runs the federal grand jury attacking anti-war and international solidarity activists.

“That Barry Jonas is chasing peace activists means we have to be ready for every dirty trick in the book. The record is clear. The way he sees it, solidarity with Palestine is a crime. We need to push back as hard as we can.” said Jess Sundin.

Sundin urges all supporters of peace with justice to sign the pledge to take action (http://www.stopfbi.net/get-involved/pledge-of-resistance) in the event that international solidarity activists are indicted.

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