August 8, 2012

Barry Jonas, of Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office, refuses to return materials from FBI raid

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.

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.

Michael Deutsch, Abudayyeh’s lawyer, who has a long history of fighting government repression, stated, “The continuing investigation after almost two years is grossly unjust and an effort by the Obama administration to silence those who speak and organize against U.S. policies at home and around the world.”

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.

In September of 2010, more than 70 FBI agents took part in a series of coordinated raids on the homes of well-known anti-war, labor and international solidarity activists, along with the office of the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee. A total of 23 activists, including Abudayyeh, were subpoenaed to a Chicago grand jury. All of them refused to testify in the secret proceedings.

Most of the activists targeted in this case, including Abudayyeh, helped organize the massive protest at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota. At that time, an undercover law enforcement officer, going by the name of “Karen Sullivan,” infiltrated the protest efforts and stuck around to spy and lie about many of the 23 activists.

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.

With each passing day, the U.S. is becoming a more repressive place. Hundreds of Arabs and Muslims have and are facing unjust prosecutions, or have already been put behind bars. Also, a grand jury is threatening political activists in the Northwest; criminal proceedings are taking place against NATO protesters in Chicago; and the Occupy movement has faced a wave of police violence.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression urges all our supporters to sign the pledge to take action now, ( to be ready in the event that international solidarity activists are indicted. We recently won a victory when we defeated the frame-up against veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes. We need to do everything in our power to push back against these attacks on our right to protest, organize and speak out for justice. Together we will win!