March 16, 2012

Solidarity with Julian Assange

The Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression expresses our solidarity for Julian Assange.  Amy Goodman reported in the Guardian that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has a sealed indictment in the U.S., according to leaked emails from Stratfor, an intelligence company. The emails were hacked by Anonymous and then published by WikiLeaks. The Guardian and other sources had already reported that a secret federal grand jury in Virginia was investigating Assange for allegedly violating the Espionage Act by publishing classified U.S. State Department documents.

This news brings to mind parallels with our situation.  Our committee is organizing in solidarity with the 23 peace and international solidarity activists who have been subpoenaed to testify at a secret federal grand jury in Chicago that alleges material support for terrorism. This investigation is because of their activism.

We believe that the grand jury in the case of the Peace 23 was convened in August 2009, but we are unaware of whether or not it is still meeting. The prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago have told their lawyers repeatedly that they are expecting multiple indictments, but we don’t know when this will occur or if, like in Assange’s case, they have the indictments and are waiting until later to release them. Either way, the Peace 23 wake up every day not knowing if the FBI will be back their doors again – this time to take them into custody.

The grand juries that investigated Assange and that are or were investigating the Peace 23 are similar in many ways. Both meet in secret and are fundamentally undemocratic. Suspects and witnesses are subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury but no one is allowed representation by a lawyer. Both have a wide scope for their “investigation” and neither is limited by a judge or even by much of a time table. Not surprisingly, 99.9% of all federal defendants called before a federal grand jury are indicted, since the grand jury system has been designed to help prosecutors.

Another similarity is the political nature of these cases. Assange is being investigated for publicizing the truth about U.S. foreign policy and the Peace 23 are being targeted for opposing U.S. foreign policy. Materials published by WikiLeaks have been invaluable to the anti-war movement. The true horrors of U.S. occupation in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been documented. Exposing war crimes is not a crime! And neither is solidarity or anti-war activism!  End grand jury repression now!