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Two Chicago men face prison for assisting Zimbabwe’s fight against sanctions

Barry Jonas prosecuting men for their efforts in 2008 and 2009
By Mick Kelly |
August 13, 2013
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Chicago, IL – Federal charges were unsealed against two Chicago men, Aug. 6, for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe. The charges claim that Ben Israel and Greg Turner assisted Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and others in an effort to lift the unjust economic sanctions. The government claims that Israel and Tuner were promised payment for their lobbying and consulting work in 2008 and 2009.

The men have been charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which carries up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

An affidavit from FBI agent Steven Noldin claims the two lobbied congress people and Illinois state politicians.

Starting under the Bush administration, Zimbabwe and its leaders have faced devastating sanctions for charting a course of development independent of Western domination. U.S. politicians have also condemned Zimbabwe’s land reform efforts.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago indicates the FBI investigation started in late 2008. According to the statement, “a scheduler for President-Elect Obama’s transition team sent an email to another transition team member stating that State Representative A ‘wants a phone call from [transition team officials] regarding a meeting he had last week in Zimbabwe. I am not sure who to pass this on to but it’s the second time they have called.’ The transition team forwarded this email to the FBI based on its concerns that State Representative A may have violated sanctions by traveling to Zimbabwe.”

One of the prosecutors pursuing the case is civil liberties opponent Barry Jonas. Jonas is well known for his prosecution of the Holy Land 5. Accused of material support for terrorism, the five are now doing long prison sentences for the ‘crime’ of providing charity to Palestinians.

Jonas is also working on the case of Midwest anti-war and international solidarity activists who were raided by the FBI in September 2010 and subpoenaed to a Chicago grand jury investigating material support of terrorism. The peace activists demand an end to the investigation.

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