Activists targeted by FBI reject grand jury subpoenas

by David Jones

Three of the antiwar, labor, and international solidarity activists whose homes were raided by the FBI on Sept. 24 will have their subpoenas issued at the time “reactivated,” requiring them to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago. The three, Anh Pham, Tracy Molm & Sarah Martin, all of Minneapolis, were among 14 activists whose homes were raided by the FBI in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Search warrants had been issued on the request of Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging possible connections with and “material support” to organizations on the government’s so-called “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (FTOs) list.

The 14 raid victims announced that they would invoke their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify, insisting they had committed no illegal acts. Following demonstrations and other public protests in cities across the United States and Canada, the subpoenas were “suspended,” but have now been renewed.

It is expected that Fitzgerald will attempt to coerce testimony out of the three re-subpoenaed activists by granting immunity from prosecution to them, effectively nullifying their constitutional right to refuse to testify, and then jail them for an indefinite period on the grounds of “contempt of court” if they persist in refusing to testify. This judicial maneuver makes it clear that the U.S. Attorney’s targets are some or all of the remaining 11 raid victims, especially those who have traveled abroad to meet with and learn about the struggles of oppressed peoples fighting U.S. imperialism.

The search warrants mention “the recruitment, indoctrination and facilitation of other individuals in the United States to travel to Columbia, Palestine, and any other location in support of FTOs including but not limited to FARC, PFLP and Hezbollah.” The warrants also state that among the items to be seized from the homes of the raid victims were materials relating to “the recruitment, indoctrination and facilitation of other individuals in the United States to join FRSO” (Freedom Road Socialist Organization). Many of the activists have stated that they are members or supporters of FRSO.

Two of the three activists whose subpoenas have been “reactivated”—Anh Pham, a long time Vietnamese-American antiwar activist, and Tracy Molm, also an antiwar activist—are part of AFSCME Local 3800, which represents clerical workers at the University of Minnesota. Pham is a rank-and-file member of the local. Molm is employed as a staff organizer by Local 3800. Martin is a well-known participant in the Iraq Peace Action Coalition in Minneapolis.

AFSCME Council 5, which includes Local 3800 and represents some 40,000 state workers in Minnesota, passed a strongly worded resolution at its recent state convention opposing the raids and judicial persecution of the activists.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression’s call for actions during the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 3 around the theme of “Call off the Grand Jury—Stop the Witch Hunt!” prompted demonstrations in some 20 cities, focusing on the offices of members of Congress.

The Committee is urging Congressional representatives to take a stand in support of free speech and association, urging them to tell President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that a halt is needed in the Justice Department’s assault on the activists. The committee is also seeking funds to help pay for the anticipated legal expenses. More information is available on the committee’s website, http://www.stopfbi.net/.

> This article was originally published in the December 2010 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.