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Feds Revive McCarthy-era Tactics to Squelch Political Dissent
by Civil Rights Outreach Committee
May 18, 2006
Lauren Regan, Civil Liberties Defense Center, Eugene, OR: 541-687-9180
Alejandro Queral, NW Constitutional Rights Center, Portland, OR: 503-295-6400, 202-491-6204
Civil rights advocates decry use of grand jury to gather information against environmental activists
Eugene, OR -- The federal government has subpoenaed two more environmental activists to testify before grand juries on May 18, 2006, at the federal courthouse here and in Colorado, as prosecutors continue to carry out broad, politically motivated sweeps of environmental and animal rights activists around the country. The Civil Liberties Defense Center and the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center are alarmed at the government�s improper use of the broad subpoena powers of the grand jury to coerce information from activists as they seek to bolster their case against 15 people indicted for their alleged involvement in several acts of property destruction. The government�s case has so far relied on the information and testimony provided by infiltrators and informants.
Jeff Hogg, a nursing student and long-time environmental activist, is scheduled to appear before the grand jury in Eugene this morning. Burke Morris has been subpoenaed to appear before a Denver grand jury investigating the 1998 Vail arson.
"The continued use of the grand jury by federal prosecutors in this instance confirms that they are abusing their power to subpoena witnesses in order to prepare the federal case for trial," said Lauren Regan, attorney and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. "This is clearly an improper use of the grand jury under federal law."
"Amidst the continued revelations in the last week that the federal government is spying on millions of Americans, the FBI�s investigative tactics against environmental and animal rights activists, and the prosecutors� broad use of subpoena powers to coerce testimony, the government will likely discourage many from freely expressing their political viewpoints," said Alejandro Queral, executive director of the NW Constitutional Rights Center. "These are all signs that we live in an increasingly repressive society."
The grand jury in Eugene is investigating acts of sabotage linked to the underground Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF). There have been grand juries convened in San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Colorado affecting a broad sweep of environmental and animal activists suspected of property damage. The actions include arsons at such targets as a ski resort expansion into endangered lynx habitat and a slaughterhouse facility where healthy wild horses were killed for dog food for export to Europe. Despite the fact that no one was injured in any of the incidents, the FBI calls the actions "terrorism." Two additional people were charged in separate indictments in Washington and California.
A press packet of current related articles, background information, historical examples of sabotage in the U.S., and a history of F.B.I. repression of political activism is available. Please contact the Civil Liberties Defense Center at 541-687-9180.