Antiwar Activists Say They'll Refuse to Testify

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 6, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Antiwar Activists Say They'll Refuse to Testify

Byline: Michael Tarm Associated Press

Antiwar activists whose homes or offices were raided as part of an FBI terrorism funding investigation will refuse to testify before a grand jury as ordered, in a show of defiance that could land them in jail.

Attorneys for the 14 activists called to testify have coordinated their responses since the Sept. 24 raids and have agreed their clients wont testify, Melinda Power, an attorney for a Chicago couple whose home was searched, said Tuesday. Agents searched seven homes and one office in Minneapolis and Chicago.

"They feel grand juries are now, and have historically been, a tool of harassment against activists", Power said.

Some of the antiwar activists wont testify because they dont want to be complicit in what they see as an attempt to stifle freedom of speech and assembly, said Jess Sundin, whose Minnesota home was raided.

"We feel like the reason were being called and were being looked into is because of our very legitimate and constitutionally protected work in the antiwar movement," she said.

About 50 peace activists protested Tuesday outside of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, where the grand jury was to convene.

"We will not be silent," Stephanie Weiner told protesters. She and her husband, Joe Iosbaker, were the two activists whose home was raided in Chicago.

Some subpoenas ordered activists to appear before Tuesday. Sundin, who was subpoenaed to appear on Oct. 12, said activists sent separate letters to prosecutors indicating they do not intend to testify.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorneys office in Chicago, declined to comment about the case.

Some legal observers say the activists could go to jail.

"Theres no chance prosecutors will just let it slide if they keep refusing," said Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago attorney with no link to the case.

As a next step, the government could reissue subpoenas possibly this time with an offer of immunity. If the activists decline to appear then, a judge could hold them in contempt.

A key issue is whether any of the activists are targets of prosecutors or whether prosecutors merely consider them witnesses against another primary target.

Just after the raids, FBI spokesman Steve Warfield said the bureau was seeking evidence related to "activities concerning the material support of terrorism.

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