March 15, 2009

An animal rights activist has been jailed for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury apparently investigating a series of raids on local mink farms.

Jordan Halliday was found in contempt of court and taken into federal custody until he testifies.

"Mr. Halliday, you are the one who can get yourself out of this," U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell told him as federal marshals handcuffed the 21-year-old man at the end of a hearing in federal court on Friday.

As he was led away, supporters who filled the courtroom broke out into applause. "We absolutely support what he's doing," Harold Rose told the Deseret News. "We support Jordan."

Halliday was one of two activists subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury last month, but he said he refused to answer questions from federal prosecutors. During Friday's contempt hearing, it was revealed that the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah had offered him immunity in exchange for his testimony. Halliday's attorney tried a number of defenses — including his First Amendment right to free association — that were rejected by the judge. The attorney also suggested that the government may have employed illegal surveillance tactics.

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