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Building the battle against repression

Committee to Stop FBI Repression plans to step up resistance
By staff |
September 23, 2012
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Chicago, IL – Leaders of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) say they plan to step up the fight against political repression this fall. “The attempt by the Justice Department to jail anti-war and international solidarity activists, the frame-ups of Arabs and Muslims, the outrageous cases stemming from the NATO protests, and the coordinated attacks on the Occupy movement mean that we have our work cut out for us,” states Jess Sundin of the CSFR.

Sundin is one of the anti-war activists whose homes were raided by the FBI on Sept. 24, 2010. On that day, more than 70 agents raided seven homes in Chicago and Minneapolis, along with the office of the Twin Cites-based Anti-War Committee. A total of 23 activists were served with subpoenas to a Chicago-based grand jury investigating “material support for terrorism.” All of them refused to appear in front of the grand jury and there was an out pouring of support for the activists. These events led to the formation of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.

Stop Barry Jonas

Standing up to the FBI and grand jury attacks on anti-war and international solidarity activists will be a critical area of work for the CSFR in upcoming months.

A statement from the CSFR makes note of recent developments, “In late July 2012, Northern Illinois Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas refused to return much of the material seized in the FBI raid on the home of Hatem Abudayyeh, citing the ongoing ‘material support for terrorism’ investigation that is underway against anti-war, Palestinian and international solidarity activists.”

The CSFR also points out, “The Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office has told lawyers representing the anti-war and international solidarity activists that they are preparing ‘multiple indictments of multiple people.’ Barry Jonas’ refusal to return Abudayyeh’s papers is the latest confirmation that the investigation has not ended and that the Justice Department is continuing its vendetta against those who are working for peace with justice. This needs to be taken seriously. In a number of ‘material support of terrorism’ cases, there has been a gap of one to three or more years between the FBI raids and indictments.”

Barry Jonas is well known for participating in one of the worst violations of civil liberties in the past decade. He played a leading role in prosecuting the leaders of the United Holy Land Foundation while he was trial attorney for the Department of Justice Counter-terrorism Section.

According to the CSFR: “That Barry Jonas is now the lead prosecutor for the international solidarity activists is troubling. Jonas is a pro-Israel ideologue whose work in prosecuting the Holy Land case exposed his politically motivated willingness to trample on the rights of accused Palestinians. As the lead prosecutor in the Holy Land case, Jonas used secret witnesses (the defense never got to find out who the witnesses were), 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. The result was that five men, who did nothing wrong, are sitting in prison with sentences that range between 15 and 65 years.”

Victory in Carlos Montes case

Supporters of civil liberties have been energized by the important victory that was won this past June, in defeating the FBI frame-up of veteran Chicano activist Carlos Montes. “The FBI attempt to put Montes in jail was a part of the case against the 23 other anti-war activists. When the FBI raided homes and served subpoenas on Sept. 24 2010, Carlos Montes’ name was listed on the FBI search warrant for the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis,” states Mick Kelly of the CSFR.

Montes’ home was raided on May 17, 2011, by the combined forces of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Swat Team and the FBI. They crashed Montes’ door down at 5:00 a.m., with automatic assault rifles drawn, almost killing him. He was charged with six serious felonies with a possible jail time of up to 18 years.

With local and national support, via solidarity protests, call-in campaigns to President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder, local rallies and protests and an offensive legal strategy, two felonies were dropped - this was a first partial victory. However, the District Attorney still stated that they wanted Montes to do at least five years in state prison for the four remaining felony charges.

The Los Angeles and national Committees to Stop FBI Repression launched a petition drive and a “Call the D.A.” campaign, with phone banking and a robo call by Carlos to over 4000 supporters, urging folks to call District Attorney Steve Cooley. The D.A.’s office was flooded with calls and letters.

Montes’ attorney made several motions to get charges dropped on various grounds, but the Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected them. Preparations were made for a trial, knowing well the state judicial system is not ‘fair and impartial.’ Montes and his attorney Jorge Gonzalez got widespread support and media coverage, including by the Democracy Now TV show, La Opinión and the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

The local district attorney on the case then sought for a resolution and proposed to drop three additional felonies, if Carlos pled “no contest” to one count of perjury. This proposal included no jail time, three years of probation and community service. Under advice from supporters, friends and his attorney, Montes moved forward with this proposal.

Pledge to resist FBI repression

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression urges people from around the world to pledge to take action in the event that anti-war and international solidarity activists are re-called to appear before a grand jury or are indicted. An online version of the pledge can be found on the website stopfbi.net.