Category Archives: Criminalizing legitimate protests

U.K. Supreme Court grants “judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements”

Supreme Court grants “judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements”

Surveillance at June 2014 London austerity march

This morning the UK Supreme Court delivered a ruling that amounts to what Netpol describes as “judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements”.

This decision is the result of an appeal by the Metropolitan Police against a decision in March 2013 that its secretive ‘domestic extremist’ surveillance unit had unlawfully recorded the political activities of Brighton peace campaigner John Catt.

Back in December last year, when Netpol was granted the right to intervene in the Supreme Court hearing, we warned that a victory for the Metropolitan police would “make it significantly easier for intelligence-gathering officers to continue to obtain and retain data about protesters on an almost industrial scale.”

Today’s ruling does exactly this: it allows the police extraordinary discretion to obtain and retain the personal information of protesters whenever they consider it useful for purposes that are never fully defined, but that include investigating the ‘links between protest groups’ and their ‘organisation and leadership’. The Supreme Court has accepted that no further justification is apparently required.

We believe their judgement amounts to judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements. It affirms the Metropolitan Police’s stated belief that anyone taking part in a public protest has no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Supreme Court appears to view the deletion of John Catt’s ‘nominal’ records from the domestic extremism database as a significant indication of an “intensive regime of statutory and administrative regulation”. However, his data was erased long after he stumbled upon evidence that he had been targeted for surveillance and and only after he submitted a request for the specific information held on him. The judgment fails to understand that whilst the Data Protection Act 1998 does, in theory, allow individuals to obtain information held about them by the police, intelligence-gathering itself remains highly secretive and the process for challenging it is deeply flawed.

The Supreme Court says that overt intelligence-gathering “has never been concealed from those who wish to know about these matters”. Netpol’s experience working with campaigners to obtain alleged ‘domestic extremist’ data suggests the exact opposite. It is normal for a request for personal information to take months longer than the statutory maximum of 40 days and if it is eventually provided, any detail is often partial and incomplete.

This Court’s ruling means many activists must repeatedly resubmit requests if they want to check that any new data about them on police files is not, as we have often seen, either inaccurate or misleading. It is extremely unlikely that most have the time or patience to keep doing so.

This case also demonstrates the limits of relying on the courts to protect against unwarranted police surveillance. It reinforces our belief that activists must take their own steps to prevent the gathering of so-called ‘intelligence’ in the first place.

A copy of the Supreme Court judgement is available here.


In a press release issued by his solicitors Bhatt Murphy, John Catt has confirmed his intention to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights. He said:

“Four senior judges have found that my rights have been violated unlawfully, whilst four others have disagreed.  I cannot agree that the police in this country should be trusted with information about innocent people’s lawful political activities. In my view, without a new system of rules governing police surveillance, there is too much scope for the police to abuse their powers.  I am therefore left with no option but to take this matter to the European Court of Human Rights for the sake of other innocent people whose lawful political activities are being monitored by the state.

John’s solicitor Shamik Dutta said:

“Mr Catt has instructed me to seek a ruling from the European Court that by monitoring and retaining information about people’s lawful political activities the UK is violating the privacy rights of its citizens”.

Criticizing Patriot Act Lands Manlin Chee, Asian American Lawyer, in Jail

Criticizing Patriot Act Lands Manlin Chee, Asian American Lawyer, in Jail

News Report, Yu-Yee Wu,
Asian Week, Jun 29, 2005

Having spent almost three decades offering legal service to immigrants, Chinese American immigration attorney Manlin Chee is now getting used to serving time instead.

 Chee had been a nationally recognized lawyer for her work with immigrants, some of it pro bono, and much of it for Muslims, but things soured for her soon after she appeared on a panel discussing the PATRIOT Act in March 2003.

 The public forum at the main library in Greensboro, North Carolina was televised and attracted a large audience. Chee argued passionately that the PATRIOT Act violated the Bill of Rights and threatened the civil rights of immigrants and U.S. citizens.

I’ll never forget when Manlin joked that she had good news and bad news for the audience,” recalls Tim Hopkins, an attendee. “She said that the bad news is that those people taking pictures of the audience are from the FBI. The good news is that they are coming after the panelists first. It was prophetic.”

 Indeed, within weeks the FBI began investigating Chee, says her attorney Locke Clifford. Clifford says the FBI had no record of complaints against her. But the agency began combing through thousands of Chee’s case files. They even went back to her own citizenship application. The agents interviewed her clients and employees for over a year, until they indicted Chee for immigration fraud on June 26, 2004.

 It was a dramatic fall for the successful attorney who once had offices in three cities and thousands of clients. The American Bar Association awarded Chee its public service award in 1991, which was presented to her by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She also received the 1990 William L. Thorp Pro Bono Award by the North Carolina Bar Association. The Triad Business News called her “one of the foremost immigration attorneys in North Carolina if not the country.”

 Many think that it was her political views that caused Chee’s troubles.

“She was outspoken about the impact of the PATRIOT Act on the Muslim community and American citizens,” says Badi Ali, President of the Islamic Center of the Triad and Muslims for a Better North Carolina. Chee also demonstrated her support of the Muslim community by wearing Muslim garb on Fridays, says Chee’s youngest daughter, Leia Forgay. Forgay says it was symbolic. “She was letting people know that she will stand with them figuratively and literally.”

 However, fellow Greensboro immigration attorney, Gerry Chapman, questions whether Chee was targeted for her views. “There are attorneys in North Carolina who have spoken out against the PATRIOT Act and against targeting of Muslims, and the vast majority of them have not been investigated and indicted.” He adds that he thinks Chee overextended herself. “Manlin’s got a good heart, but she was trying to do too much for too many people.”

Attorney Anita Earls, director of Advocacy of the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights in Chapel Hill, points out that other immigration attorneys have engaged in worse practices… and they were not investigated. She believes Chee was “singled out because of a combination of the clients she served and the fact that she was outspoken in her opposition to the war.”

The FBI’s strongest evidence came from two sting operations, the first one within weeks after Chee had participated in the PATRIOT Act forum, says Clifford. The informants posed as needy Muslims. One informant wanted to pretend he was gay so he could seek asylum, and the other informant wanted a sham marriage to get his green card. Chee was indicted for filing papers on behalf of both.

According to Forgay, the informants wouldn’t stop asking for Chee’s help: “My mom told them that there’s nothing I can do, but they kept coming back to her and she couldn’t say no. She always tries to help… she went ahead and submitted the papers to try. She would feel worse if she didn’t try.”

Chee’s former client and good friend, Melinda Macasero agrees. “Manlin had a hard time when she first came to the U. S., so she knows how hard it can be,” Macasero says. “If you’re an immigrant and you’re a client of hers, she would go the extra mile to help.”

Says Clifford, “Manlin never said no to anybody and the FBI probably said to themselves that if we run someone in there with a sad story, Manlin will probably take the bait.”

Chee now admits she was “foolish” for succumbing to the sham entreaties. She describes one informant as being “intimidating,” constantly calling, going to her office, and badgering her when she avoided filing the papers for months. Feeling “pushed” and suffering from an anxiety disorder, Chee finally relented under the pressure.

“Manlin did have some depression,” says her close friend, Amelia Leung. “Her mental health does affect her sense of judgment sometimes.”

During Chee’s prosecution, a diverse group of community members rallied around her and formed the Manlin Chee Defense Committee, taking out a full-page ad in the local paper in her support (see sidebar). Notably missing, however, was a public outcry from the local Chinese community.

Meiling Yu, cultural promotion director of the Greensboro Chinese Association, says her organization just didn’t know enough. “Because the charges are about her practice, which we are not familiar with, we didn’t feel we had enough information to speak out in support of her.” She notes the impression that Chee was targeted for her outspokenness, but as a nonprofit, they did not feel they could make a political statement.

“I can understand why they wouldn’t speak out,” says Macasero. “You are dealing with the government, and [people] are afraid they are going to get in trouble.”

Ultimately, Chee pleaded guilty to the charges from the stings. Her daughter Leia, insists Chee pleaded guilty to keep her family together. The FBI had also indicted and charged Chee’s oldest daughter, Chernlian, because she was a paralegal in Chee’s office. Chernlian, who has an upcoming wedding, decided to cooperate with the prosecution: She would get probation if she pleaded guilty, but she would have to testify against her mother.

The anger in Leia’s voice is palpable when she discusses the effect of her sister’s decision. “My mom did the selfless thing and pleaded guilty to keep our family from tearing apart because she felt that this was a time when we needed to stick together…. The hardest thing is not living without my mom, but living with the tension in the house because of my older sister and what happened.”

Chee, however, fought all charges involving her work for real clients. Calling those charges “horsefeathers,” Chee states, “I would rather rot in jail than to plead to charges where I prepared documents like every other lawyer in the country.” Immigration expert Ira Kurzban agreed, testifying at Chee’s sentencing hearing that her labor certification filings were like those of other attorneys.

Chee never went to trial. The federal prosecutor suddenly dropped all remaining charges against her, after she decided to plead guilty. On March 3, 2005, Judge James A. Beaty sentenced Chee to a year and a day in prison beginning April 22 at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia, better known as Martha Stewart’s prison. Chee will be unable to attend her daughter Chernlian’s wedding in September.

A former U. S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights attorney, Earls believes the government was making an example of Chee.

“The U. S. Attorney’s office was certainly trying to send a message,” she says. “Bringing down someone who previously had a strong reputation as an aggressive advocate is much more attractive to the U. S. Attorney’s office than someone who doesn’t aggressively stand up for immigrant rights.”

Chee has been on disability inactive status since April 2004 with the State Bar of North Carolina due to her mental health issues and cannot practice law. However, her youngest daughter, Leia, seems fiercely determined to take up her mother’s torch and fight for the rights of immigrants. “Immigrants are often neglected in the law and in the community,” Forgay observes. “You can’t just leave out certain groups just because there are tensions with their community.”

The sixteen-year-old admits that previously, she did not want to be a lawyer because she hardly saw her mother, who was working all the time. Forgay has changed her mind. “Now, after seeing what happened to my mom, they may be able to stop her, but they can’t stop me from helping people who need it.”

Manlin Chee’s Struggle

March 2003

* Manlin Chee criticizes the government at a public forum in Greensboro, North Carolina.

* Undercover FBI agent, John Doe I, appears at Chee’s office seeking assistance for a sham marriage and begins taping conversations.

May 2003

* A second undercover FBI agent, John Doe II, seeks Chee’s help for asylum and begins taping conversations.

September 2003

* Chee begins receiving calls from clients who say that they are being interviewed by the FBI.

* She retains Locke Clifford as her attorney.

October 2003

* Clifford writes a letter to the U. S. Attorney’s office about the investigation and informing them that due to mental health issues, Chee has been planning to close her law practice.

Late October/Early November 2003

* Chee and daughter Chernlian receive “target” of investigation letters from the FBI.

* Chee’s office manager also receives a “subject” of an investigation letter.

November 2003

* Clifford meets with the U. S. attorney. He is told the investigations are not yet complete.

February 2004

* Clifford asks if Chee can go to Singapore to see her gravely ill mother and her sister who just gave birth. U.S. Attorney’s office approves.

Early March 2004

* Chee leaves for Singapore.

Late April 2004

* Clifford calls her in Singapore to return immediately for indictment. Chee rushes back to the United States but is not indicted.

* Chee goes on disability inactive status with the North Carolina State Bar.

Mid-May 2004

* Clifford again asks the prosecutor when the indictments will come down, and is told the government is still investigating. He is given assurance that Chee and her daughter, Chernlian, will be allowed to present themselves to authorities without being taken into custody, and released without bond.

Early June 2004

* Chee’s mother’s health worsens and Chee returns to Singapore. Chee’s mother dies within hours of Chee’s arrival.

Late June 2004

* Chee and her daughter, Chernlian, are indicted. Without prior notice, federal officers arrive at Chee’s home before 7:30 a. m. and take Chernlian into custody, handcuffing her and keeping her until she is able to contact her attorney.

* Chee’s attorney calls her in Singapore to tell her to return for the indictments. Chee is unable to catch a flight back due to the summer season rush, tries to go stand-by, but does not get a seat. The government threatens extradition proceedings.

September 8, 2004

* Chee returns to the United States as scheduled, landing at San Francisco International Airport. She is met at the gate, handcuffed and taken into custody.

September 9, 2004

* Chee returns to Greensboro, North Carolina.

November 22, 2004

* Chernlian, agrees to plea deal in exchange for testimony against he mother.

* Chee gives notice that she will voluntarily change her plea to guilty for the charges involving only the sting informants.

November 23, 2004

* Before Federal Judge James A. Beaty in the U. S. District Court in Winston-Salem, U.S. Attorney’s office voluntarily drops all remaining charges.

March 2-3, 2005

* Chee appears for the sentencing hearing. Ira Kurzban and a witness from the North Carolina Dept. of Labor verify Chee’s legal work as acceptable and following legal practice norms. Under federal sentencing reduction guidelines Chee’s term will be about 10 months.

April 22, 2005

* Chee reports to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia.

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How Cops Became Soldiers

How Cops Became Soldiers:

An Interview with Police Militarization Expert Radley Balko

By Michael Arria

In 2007, journalist Radley Balko told a House subcommittee that one criminologist detected a 1,500% increase in the use of SWAT teams over the last two decades. That’s reflective of a larger trend, fueled by the wars on drugs and terror, of police forces becoming heavily militarized.

Balko, an investigative reporter for the Huffington Post and author of the definitive report on paramilitary policing in the United States, has a forthcoming book on the topic, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police ForcesHe was kind enough to answer some questions about how our police turned into soldiers as well as the challenges of large-scale reform.

Motherboard: When did the shift towards militarized police forces begin in America? Is it as simple as saying it began with the War on Drugs or can we detect gradual signs of change when we look back at previous policies?

There’s certainly a lot of overlap between the war on drugs and police militarization. But if we go back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two trends developing simultaneously. The first was the development and spread of SWAT teams. Darryl Gates started the first SWAT team in L.A. in 1969. By 1975, there were 500 of them across the country. They were largely a reaction to riots, violent protest groups like the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army, and a couple mass shooting incidents, like the Texas clock tower massacre in 1966.

At the same time, Nixon was declaring an “all-out war on drugs.” He was pushing policies like the no-knock raid, dehumanizing drug users and dealers, and sending federal agents to storm private homes on raids that were really more about headlines and photo-ops than diminishing the supply of illicit drugs.

But for the first decade or so after Gates invented them, SWAT teams were largely only used in emergency situations. There usually needed to be an immediate, deadly threat to send the SWAT guys. It wasn’t until the early 1980s under Reagan that the two trends converged, and we started to see SWAT teams used on an almost daily basis — mostly to serve drug warrants.

Balko, via the Cato Institute

During the police clashes with Occupy protestors, there seemed to be a focus on isolated incidents of violence, as opposed to an overall examination of how this kind of policing exacerbates situations. What conclusions did your research lead you to on this topic?

I actually think that the Occupy protests gave the broader militarization issue more attention than it’s had in a very long time. For 25 years, the primary “beneficiaries” of police militarization have been poor people in high-crime areas — people who generally haven’t had the power or platform to speak up. The Occupy protesters were largely affluent, white, and deft at using cell phones and social media to document and publicize incidents of excessive force.

We’re also seeing interest in this issue from new quarters as SWAT teams have fallen victim to mission creep in recent years and begun raiding poker games, bars, and even people suspected of white collar crimes. So far, the only state that has passed any meaningful reform legislation in reaction to a SWAT raid gone wrong is Maryland, which passed a transparency bill after the mistaken raid on Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo.

I suppose that may be the “it needs to get worse before it will get better” good news, here. As governments at all levels continue to expand the list of crimes for which they’re willing to send the SWAT team, we’ll inevitably see these tactics used against more people with more clout and stature to push for reform. It’s an unfortunate bit of realpolitik, but it’s undoubtedly true.

Deborah Blum has written that we refer to oleoresin capsicum as “pepper spray” because “that makes it sound so much more benign than it really is, like something just a grade or so above what we might mix up in a home kitchen.” How did the use of these kinds of weapons become so commonplace? 

I think part of the reason is that it has happened gradually. We got here by way of a number of political decisions and policies passed over 40 years. There was never a single law or policy that militarized our police departments — so there was never really a public debate over whether this was a good or bad thing.

But there were other contributors. For about a generation, politicians from both parties were tripping over themselves to see who could come up with the tougher anti-crime policies. We’re finally seeing some push-back on issues like incarceration, the drug war, and over-criminalization. But not on police. No politician wants to look anti-cop. Conservatives want to look tough on crime. Liberals love to throw money at police departments. So for now, rolling back police militarization is still a non-starter in Congress and state legislatures.

It won’t be long before we see pro-militarization lobbying and pressure groups. Say hello to the police-industrial complex.

The other problem is that political factions decry police militarization when it’s used against them, but tend to fall somewhere between indifferent and gleeful when it’s used against people they don’t like. Conservatives, remember, were furious over Waco, Ruby Ridge, and a host of BATF abuses against gun owners in the 1990s — and rightly so. Liberals mocked them for it.

Liberals were furious at the aggressive response to the occupy protests — and rightly so. And conservatives mocked them. Liberals are rightly angry about militarized immigration raids — conservatives don’t much care. Conservatives were mad about the heavy-handed raid on the Gibson Guitar factory. Liberals blew it off. Just a few weeks ago, Rachel Maddow resurrected the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents in a segment about gun control — and was dismissive of people who thought the government’s actions were excessive. Of course, Maddow was also fuming about the treatment of Occupy protesters.

Until partisans are willing to denounce excessive force when it’s used against people whose politics offend them — or at least refrain from endorsing it — it’s hard to see how there will ever be a consensus for reform.

How did 9/11 alter the domestic relationship between the military and police?

It really just accelerated a process that had already been in motion for 20 years. The main effect of 9/11 on domestic policing is the DHS grant program, which writes huge checks to local police departments across the country to purchase machine guns, helicopters, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. The Pentagon had already been giving away the same weapons and equipment for about a decade, but the DHS grants make that program look tiny.

But probably of more concern is the ancillary effect of those grants. DHS grants are lucrative enough that many defense contractors are now turning their attention to police agencies — and some companies have sprung up solely to sell military-grade weaponry to police agencies who get those grants. That means we’re now building a new industry whose sole function is to militarize domestic police departments. Which means it won’t be long before we see pro-militarization lobbying and pressure groups with lots of (taxpayer) money to spend to fight reform. That’s a corner it will be difficult to un-turn. We’re probably there already. Say hello to the police-industrial complex.

Is police reform a battle that will have to be won legally? From the outside looking in, much of this seems to violate The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. Are there other ways to change these policies? Can you envision a blueprint?

It won’t be won legally. The Supreme Court has been gutting the Fourth Amendment in the name of the drug war since the early 1980s, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think the current Court will change any of that. The Posse Comitatus Act is often misunderstood. Technically, it only prohibits federal marshals (and, arguably, local sheriffs and police chiefs) from enlisting active-duty soldiers for domestic law enforcement. The president or Congress could still pass a law or executive order tomorrow ordering U.S. troops to, say, begin enforcing the drug laws, and it wouldn’t violate the Constitution or the Posse Comitatus Act. The only barrier would be selling the idea to the public.

That said, I think the current state of police militarization probably violates the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act, and probably more pertinent, the spirit and sentiment behind the Third Amendment. (Yes — the one no one ever talks about.) When the country was founded, there were no organized police departments, and wouldn’t be for another 50 to60 years. Public order was maintained through private means, in worst cases by calling up the militia.

The Founders were quite wary of standing armies and the threat they pose to liberty. They ultimately concluded — reluctantly — that the country needed an army for national defense. But they most feared the idea of troops patrolling city streets — a fear colored by much of human history, and more immediately by the the antagonism between British troops and residents of Boston in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The Founders could never have envisioned police as they exist today. And I think it’s safe to say they’d have been absolutely appalled at the idea of a team of police, dressed and armed like soldiers, breaking into private homes in the middle of the night for the purpose of preventing the use of mind-altering drugs.

The Founders would have been appalled at the idea of a team of police, dressed and armed like soldiers, breaking into private homes in the middle of the night.

As for change, the good news is that I think the public is finally waking up to this problem. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed more skepticism, for example, in the comment sections to stories about SWAT raids. I’ve also noticed more skepticism in much of the media coverage of these raids. And again, I think the fact that these tactics are now being used against people who have the means and status to speak out is drawing new attention to police militarization, and causing more people to question the wisdom of all of this. But again, there are some major political hurdles in the way of reform.

The gear and weapons and tanks are a problem. But I think a much deeper problem is the effect all of this war talk and battle rhetoric has had on policing as a profession. In much of the country today, police officers are psychologically isolated from the communities they serve. It’s all about us vs. them. There are lots of reasons for that, which I describe in the book but are too involved to get into here. But it’s really destructive.

I make a number of specific suggestions in the book about how to change that mindset — most of which came from interviews with long-time cops and former police chiefs. But generally speaking, cops should be a part of the communities in which they work. They should walk beats. They should know the names of the school principals, 7-11 managers, and Boys and Girls Club and community center staffers. When your only interaction with the community is antagonistic — responding to calls, conducting stop & frisks, questioning people — your relationship with the community will be antagonistic. Cops are public servants. Their job is to keep the peace while protecting and observing our constitutional rights. Somewhere in the process constantly declaring war on things, we’ve lost sight of that.

For 30 years, politicians and public officials have been arming, training, and dressing cops as if they’re fighting a war. They’ve been dehumanizing drug offenders and criminal suspects as the enemy. And of course they’ve explicitly and repeatedly told them they’re fighting a war. It shouldn’t be all that surprising that a lot of cops have started to believe it. NYPD Anti-Terrorism Unit Monitoring Wall Street Protests

NYPD Anti-Terrorism Unit Monitoring Wall Street Protests
28 September 2011

The New York City Counter Terrorism Unit has been filmed watching the peaceful #OccupyWallStreet Protests.

The officers, part of the New York City Counter Terrorism Bureau which has a police force bigger than the FBI, were filmed monitoring the Occupy Wall Street protesters by independent journalists who have been forced to do the job of the corporate controlled media which has largely ignored the wall street protests.

Apparently, peaceful protesters who are rallying against the banks who created the economic crisis are now considered possible terrorists by a police force that has been largely used to monitor and intimidate innocent Americans.

Last Sunday 60 Minutes ran a piece on this counter terrorism bureau, essentially worshiping unconstitutional checkpoints and pushing the fear of another terror attack in their explanation as to why New York needs 35,000 counter terrorism units to combat cave-dwelling Muslims, not to mention the 2,000 and soon to be 3,000 cameras on every New York City street corner.

What the 60 Minutes piece failed to acknowledge was that this unit is actually being used against innocent, politically active Americans!

The fact that the corporate media is almost completely ignoring these protests while at the same time the NYPD Counter Terrorism Bureau is actively monitoring them, shows just how frightened the establishment is of grassroots activism and protests.

It is also important to note that while this protest was at first promoted and started by what some have labeled open socialists, the fact is that many of the protesters now occupying Wall Street are actually anti Federal Reserve Ron Paul supporters.

FBI Document Labels Michigan Affirmative Action and Peace Groups as Terrorists

FBI Document Labels Michigan Affirmative Action and Peace Groups as Terrorists

by ACLU, 29 August 2005

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today released an FBI document that designates a Michigan-based peace group and an affirmative action advocacy group as potentially “involved in terrorist activities.” The file was obtained through an ongoing nationwide ACLU effort seeking information on the FBI’s use of Joint Terrorism Task Forces to engage in political surveillance.

“This document confirms our fears that federal and state counterterrorism officers have turned their attention to groups and individuals engaged in peaceful protest activities,” said Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney and counsel in a lawsuit seeking the release of additional FBI records. “When the FBI and local law enforcement identify affirmative action advocates as potential terrorists, every American has cause for concern.”

The document released today is an FBI report labeled, “Domestic Terrorism Symposium,” and describes a meeting that was intended to “keep the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies apprised of the activities of the various groups and individuals within the state of Michigan who are thought to be involved in terrorist activities.”

Among the groups mentioned are Direct Action, an anti-war group, and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a national organization dedicated to defending affirmative action, integration, and other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The FBI acknowledges in the report that the Michigan State Police has information that BAMN has been peaceful in the past.

“Labeling political advocacy as ‘terrorist activity’ is a threat to legitimate dissent which has never been considered a crime in this country,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Spying on people who simply disagree with our government’s policies is a tremendous waste of police resources.”

The FBI report was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the ACLU of Michigan on behalf of nine local organizations and individuals, including Direct Action. ACLU affiliates in 15 additional states have filed similar requests on behalf of more than 100 groups and individuals.

“We’re disturbed and dismayed that the FBI is misusing its power by spying on anti-war groups and monitoring political dissent to target activist groups,” said 23-year-old Sarah McDonald, a member of Direct Action and recent graduate of Michigan State University. “We’ve protested the war, racial discrimination and the military recruitment of the high school students, but we’re certainly not a terrorist group.”

In addition to the state FOIAs, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court to expedite its request for FBI surveillance files on its own organization as well as other national groups including Greenpeace, United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In response to the lawsuit, the FBI has revealed that it has thousands of pages of documents that mention those groups.

The ACLU launched its nationwide effort last year in response to widespread complaints from students and political activists who said they were questioned by FBI agents in the months leading up to the 2004 political conventions. The FOIAs seek two kinds of information: 1) the actual FBI files of groups and individuals targeted for speaking out or practicing their faith; and, 2) information about how the practices and funding structure of the task forces, known as JTTFs, may be encouraging rampant and unwarranted spying.

Documents previously obtained by the ACLU in response to the FOIAs include an FBI memo on Food Not Bombs, a Colorado group that provides free vegetarian food to hungry people and protests war and poverty, and a report on United for Peace and Justice, a national peace organization that coordinates non-violent protests.

For more information on the national lawsuit and the FOIA requests, go

For a copy of the document released today, go to: /cpredirect/19863.

Filming police arrests made illegal

Police fight cellphone recordings

Witnesses taking audio of officers arrested, charged with illegal surveillance

By Daniel Rowinski
New England Center For Investigative Reporting / January 12, 2010

Simon Glik, a lawyer, was walking down Tremont Street in Boston when he saw three police officers struggling to extract a plastic bag from a teenager’s mouth. Thinking their force seemed excessive for a drug arrest, Glik pulled out his cellphone and began recording.

Within minutes, Glik said, he was in handcuffs.

“One of the officers asked me whether my phone had audio recording capabilities,’’ Glik, 33, said recently of the incident, which took place in October 2007. Glik acknowledged that it did, and then, he said, “my phone was seized, and I was arrested.’’

The charge? Illegal electronic surveillance.

Jon Surmacz, 34, experienced a similar situation. Thinking that Boston police officers were unnecessarily rough while breaking up a holiday party in Brighton he was attending in December 2008, he took out his cellphone and began recording.

Police confronted Surmacz, a webmaster at Boston University. He was arrested and, like Glik, charged with illegal surveillance.

There are no hard statistics for video recording arrests. But the experiences of Surmacz and Glik highlight what civil libertarians call a troubling misuse of the state’s wiretapping law to stifle the kind of street-level oversight that cellphone and video technology make possible.

“The police apparently do not want witnesses to what they do in public,’’ said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, who helped to get the criminal charges against Surmacz dismissed.

Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll rejected the notion that police are abusing the law to block citizen oversight, saying the department trains officers about the wiretap law. “If an individual is inappropriately interfering with an arrest that could cause harm to an officer or another individual, an officer’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the situation,’’ she said.

In 1968, Massachusetts became a “two-party’’ consent state, one of 12 currently in the country. Two-party consent means that all parties to a conversation must agree to be recorded on a telephone or other audio device; otherwise, the recording of conversation is illegal. The law, intended to protect the privacy rights of individuals, appears to have been triggered by a series of high-profile cases involving private detectives who were recording people without their consent.

In arresting people such as Glik and Surmacz, police are saying that they have not consented to being recorded, that their privacy rights have therefore been violated, and that the citizen action was criminal.

“The statute has been misconstrued by Boston police,’’ said June Jensen, the lawyer who represented Glik and succeeded in getting his charges dismissed. The law, she said, does not prohibit public recording of anyone. “You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want; you can do that.’’


Patriot Act” charges filed against RNC Eight

Patriot Act” charges filed against RNC Eight

By Tom Eley 
11 September 2008

The charges of terrorism leveled against the eight youth who had sought to organize protests and civil disobedience against the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minnesota last week sound an alarm that political opposition in the US is on its way toward being criminalized.

In what may be the first case of its kind, American citizens have been arrested and charged as terrorists for no other act than planning to protest and obstruct a political event. In this case the occasion was the nominating convention of a party chiefly responsible for policies detested by the majority of Americans, including the war in Iraq and the enrichment of a tiny layer of the enormously wealthy.

Even a casual review of the case reveals that the charges are a baseless frame-up, carried out in the name of constitutionally dubious “anti-terrorist” legislation enacted since 2002.

More alarming than the case itself, however, is the fact that it has gone virtually unnoted by the national news media. This reporter could also find no mention of the case on the web sites of left-liberal publications such as theNation, the Progressive, or In These Times. No major politician from either party has commented on the case, including Minnesota’s Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. Attempts to contact the campaign and Senate office of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama revealed that the nominee has no media contact phone number and that he had not released a statement on the arrests.

This silence on the case is no indication of its lack of importance. In essence, the terrorism charges against the RNC 8 show what the World Socialist Web Site has long warned: that anti-terrorism laws like the Patriot Act—enthusiastically supported by both major parties—have never been about protecting the American people from terrorism. They were put into place to create the legal framework for the suppression of basic constitutional and democratic rights of the population.

The eight members of the anarchist group Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) were arrested the weekend before the RNC began and charged with the felony “conspiracy to commit riot in the second degree in furtherance of terrorism.” They have since been released on $10,000 bail. If convicted at trial, the RNC Eight could each face five years in prison plus a $10,000 fine. A ninth individual has been named in the police complaint, but has yet to be charged.

Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and attorney for Monica Bicking, one of the eight defendants, told theWorld Socialist Web Site that the authorities have shown no indication that the charges will be dropped.

The charges are predicated on an a priori assumption of guilt; not on what actually happened, but what might have happened had no arrest been made.

Furthermore, the charges are almost entirely based upon the evidence of two confidential paid informants.

Nestor pointed out in an earlier interview with the Minnesota Independentthat “the most outrageous allegations made by the authorities are not supported by any evidence other than the statement of the confidential informants. They’re not supported by the evidence seized.”

The physical evidence gathered by law enforcement was even more threadbare than the purchased testimony of informants. “We have the sheriff displaying a single plastic item that he claims was a shield,” Nestor said, “as if one shield was going to protect demonstrators from 3,500 armed riot police who have projectile-tear-gas weapons.” In addition, police seized a rusty hatchet, nails, lighters and other common household items as evidence, and rather ludicrously reported discovering “weaponized urine.”

This is the same method the Federal Bureau of Investigation has used in its attacks on Muslim organizations and other “terrorism” suspects. In such scenarios, anonymous police infiltrators enter an organization, create a provocation or even a crime itself, and then turn over uncorroborated testimony, thereby implicating an entire group of people

Lawyers for the RNCWC members have also pointed to the climate of fear created surrounding their clients by the very charge of terrorism. “All they do is they label people as terrorists and anarchists, and at that point what people are actually saying and the content of their views has no meaning anymore,” said attorney Jordan Kushner.

Nestor told the WSWS that the arrests are “part of an overall law enforcement strategy to intimidate people from exercising political rights in the streets and to intimidate people from political organizations, to put citizens outside of the realm of acceptable behavior, to limit acceptable protest to voting and writing letters, and anything else is dangerous and potentially criminal.”

The arrests are based on a 2002 law enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support in response to 9/11 and the adoption of the national USA Patriot Act. According to Nestor the Minnesota law is a version of the latter. According to the law, “a crime is committed to ‘further terrorism’ if the crime is a felony and is a premeditated act involving violence to persons or property that is intended to: (1) terrorize, intimidate, or coerce a considerable number of members of the public in addition to the direct victims of the act; and (2) significantly disrupt or interfere with the lawful exercise, operation, or conduct of government, lawful commerce, or the right of lawful assembly (emphasis added).

In other words, the statute lays out a legal framework for the categorization of protest as “furthering terrorism.” Police could quite easily determine that a protest aims to “coerce” “members of the public” or “interfere with” the operations of government, industry and meetings. In a broad sense, that is precisely what public demonstrations have always aimed to do.

The passing of the 2002 legislation was not the only, or most recent, preparation made by the government for the repression that has unfolded in St. Paul.

It has been revealed that the city government of St. Paul and the Host Committee of the Republican National Convention—which organized the event and solicited corporate donors—worked out a bargain whereby the Host Committee would assume the first $10 million in liability resulting from lawsuits civilians might launch against the city’s police. This agreement gave a signal to police that financial liability need not serve as a deterrent to police repression of protests.

Police preparation in the Twin Cities was elaborate. Because the RNC, like the Democratic National Convention, was declared a “National Security Event,” the local police were placed under the supervision of the federal government through the Secret Service and combined with numerous other state and federal police and military agencies.

It has also become clear that the media, especially independent media, were targeted for harassment and arrest during the convention. This included the unlawful search and seizure of filming equipment, computers, and cell phones.

As the scope of the arrests and police brutality has begun to take shape—multiple reports have emerged of police beatings, gassings, denial of medical treatment, and use of mace and taser guns on protesters and those already detained or arrested—it appears increasingly unlikely that this was simply an overreaction, as some liberal commentators have claimed.

The goal of this repression—which most assuredly would be a central preoccupation of the mainstream media had it taken place in, for instance, Russia—was only secondarily aimed at intimidating or squelching the RNC protests. Instead these measures were cut from the same cloth as the sort of massive repression carried out in third world police states. The massive police operation’s primary aim was to benumb, intimidate and silence the population as a whole.

It also provided the opportunity for a trial run of large-scale repression against the mass opposition to war and social immiseration that will inevitably emerge in the coming months and years.

Italy: Restrictions on demonstrations


Interior Ministry directive on demonstrations in urban centres

                    On 26 January 2009, the Italian interior affairs minister Roberto Maroni issued a "general directive for public demonstrations" concerning urban centres and "sensitive" areas. The directive invites prefetti (government representatives in charge of security in a city) to exclude certain areas from the reach of demonstrations, envisage guarantees for possible damage that may occur, and set further specifications required for carrying out given demonstrations, in accordance with the mayor and after consulting the provincial committee for public order and security.

                    The justification mooted for this measure is the "daily succession of public initiatives and demonstrations in cities involving marches" to express "dissent and protests" or to "draw the public opinion’s and institutions’ attention to problems and proposals". Noting that there is a constitutional right "to gather and demonstrate freely in public space" and that this right must be safeguarded and preserved as a "fundamental expression of democratic life", its exercise must take place while respecting other "constitutionally guaranteed rights and the norms that discipline the orderly functioning of civil coexistence". In large and complex urban centres, the "frequency of demonstrations" often gives rise to critical situations in terms of the orderly running of the city’s life so as to limit and affect citizens’ rights, such as the right to education, work and mobility. Hence, there is a need to intervene on existing regulations, all the more so as the initiatives take place successively and are concentrated in the main cities in order to seek greater visibility and as they are places where the institutions and political authorities are represented. Safeguarding public order and security must "always" be compatible with the right of assembly and free expression of thought, the directive’s premise establishes.

                    With regards to urban centres, suitable routes and other indications aimed at "regulating" demonstrations must be identified in order to avoid wasting resources and to prevent measures to guarantee mobility from being rendered ineffective. Where regulations and agreements have established "guaranteed time bands" for public transport, a demonstration taking place in those hours may entail the blocking of a city’s traffic (even involuntarily), thus undermining the right to free movement. Adopting new criteria to regulate the routes of demonstrations may be a way to address the competing rights in a balanced way, by excluding key areas for mobility or places with artistic importance (such as those recognised by UNESCO as heritage of mankind) or areas that are "specifically protected" from noise pollution, such as hospitals, would be a possible approach, Maroni argues in the directive. A further element to be considered is the urban estate, both public and private, for whose safeguard guarantees involving the responsibility of promoters and organisers may be envisaged.

                    As for "sensitive areas", the directive notes that article 17 of the Constitution recognises the right of peaceful assembly in the absence of weapons, although the public authorities must be notified in advance and can only forbid them in case of proven security or public safety reasons. The unified text of laws on public security (Testo Unico delle Leggi di Pubblica Sicurezza, TULPS) establishes that the questore (police chief) must be given three days’ notice and may forbid the assembly or prohibit it at given times or in given places, if the prescribed notice is not given or there are reasons of "public order, morality or public health". The same norms apply to religious functions, ceremonies, practices, and to ecclesiastical or civil processions, and the questore may also prescribe that specified modalities be respected for public order or public health reasons, informing organisers at least 24 hours earlier. Article 30 of TULPS also establishes that written authorisation from the competent authority may be required to pass through specified public areas, with the questore entrusted to use his discretion as to whether a demonstration complies with public order and public security requirements, on the basis of factual elements, time and location. Such an assessment will be applied as regards areas where there are critical targets, for which limitations of access will have to be set.

                    In defining criteria to direct the decisions to be adopted by competent prefetti and questori, "the need to limit the access to certain particularly sensitive areas, especially when the demonstrations involve a high number of participants" is highlighted in the directive. These "sensitive areas" will be defined on the basis of their symbolic character for "social, cultural or religious reasons (for example, cathedrals, basilicae or other important places of worship)", or those that experience a considerable influx of people (even in normal circumstances) or in which critical targets are found. The limits will be especially applicable when there have been demonstrations in the past with the same subjects and organisation that have disrupted public order and security.

                    The measures were deemed necessary as a result of the many student, workers and political demonstrations that have been taking place, particularly in Rome, in response to reforms, collective contractual negotiations, dismissals from employment (with the case of former Alitalia airline employees particularly relevant, as some undertakings agreed during the transition for the company to be taken over by a consortium and be re-named CAI -Compagnia Aerea Italiana- have not been respected, leaving them without payments that they had been guaranteed; they responded by blocking the motorway access to Fiumicino airport on 12 February) and other issues, often blocking or disrupting traffic in parts of the city centre. A further development was during a demonstrations in Milan on 3 January 2009 against the Israeli attacks in Gaza when, apart from the now usual controversy over the burning of Israeli flags by protesters, many Muslims on the march stopped to pray in the square in front of the Duomo cathedral, the city’s religious and symbolic centre (as also happened in front of the San Petronio basilica in Bologna). Although similar open air prayers occurred in many European cities in response to the scale of the killings without particular reactions, members of the Italian government now view such conduct as a "provocation" to the host country’s population (especially outside of a Catholic cathedral), in accordance with opposition by some of its components (particularly Maroni’s own Lega Nord party) to the building of new mosques and their calls for increasingly strict conditions to be imposed on religious (generally Muslim) bodies and organisations to operate in Italy. Days later, in response to the outrage, the presidents of two Milan-based Muslim associations (the Casa della Cultura Islamica and the Istituto Culturale Islamico) met representatives of the Milan diocese to deny that the initiative had any provocative intent and to express regret if anyone’s sensitivity had been hurt.

                    It is also noteworthy that mention of sites of worship and of cultural/artistic importance is included in the directive, which, if interpreted expansively, would give prefetti and questori a very wide discretion to prohibit demonstrations in the capital and other historic cities – for instance, there several hundred churches in Rome, and Italy is the country that has the largest number of UNESCO sites identified as part of the cultural heritage of mankind (43), sometimes encompassing areas as large as "the historic centre of Rome", as is also the case for Florence, Naples, Siena, San Gimignano, Urbino and Pienza, parts of Genoa, and the cities of Venice, Mantua, Syracuse, Assisi, Ragusa, Ferrara, Vicenza, among others. Also, if so-called "sensitive sites" are to include embassies, stations and airports, for example [listed as potential targets when the deployment of soldiers was decreed in July 2008], it is unlikely that demonstrations will be able to take place anywhere where they can have any impact at all. Cinzia Gubbini of Il manifesto newspaper has reported some of the first effects of the directive: demonstrations along their historic routes in the historic centre of Bologna have been forbidden from 2 p.m. on Saturdays and the whole of Sundays until September 2009; in Verona, permission will be granted on a case-by-case basis, with the option of requesting a deposit from organisers examined, after the sale of eggs and flour was forbidden in supermarkets on the day of the carnival parade (when children traditionally throw them at each other, inevitably "soiling" the UNESCO-protected city centre); and in Palermo, a CGIL trade union official was notified that he is under investigation for standing on the sidewalk in front of the prefettura (office of the prefetto), something that had always happened during protests, but has now been forbidden.


Text of the directive, available in the Osservatorio sulla Repressione website (in Italian)
Italy: Deployment of armed forces to guarantee security in cities, Statewatch news online, July 2008
Milan Diocese communications office, 9.2.2009;
Il Messaggero, 12.2.2009;
Il manifesto, 28.2.2009.

                    © Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.

Germany: Unlawful ‘anti-terrorist’ investigation into G8 activists

Germany: Unlawful ‘anti-terrorist’ investigation into G8 activists

For political activists in Germany, the G8 summit entailed a great deal of work in organising blockades and accommodation for the thousands people who came to protest in Heiligendamm in June 2007 (80,000 people demonstrated on 2 June in Rostock, 20,000 people remained for a week in camps around Heiligendamm and 10,000 people took part in peaceful blockades). It also triggered a large scale secret service and police investigation into political activist scenes across the country. Anti-terrorist powers were applied to demonstrators, subjecting them to undercover surveillance, interception of telecommunications, police raids of homes and work places and the confiscation of computers and personal data. Around 2,000 people are said to have been affected by the surveillance. A series of court rulings have since declared the investigations unlawful and almost all of the charges have been dropped due to lack of
evidence. However, their purpose, to collect data on political activists, disrupt their activities and map their social networks and activities, has been achieved.

The latest investigation to be dropped due to lack of evidence concerns 11 anti-fascist activists from Bad Oldesloe who were subjected to an anti-terrorism investigation under Article 129 and 129a of the Criminal Code (StGB) in the run-up to the G8 summit, and more specifically a house raid on 17 June 2007.

The Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) decided in January this year that a series of investigations launched by the Federal Public Prosecution (Bundesanwaltschaft – BAW) against individuals in multiple German cities on grounds of formation of a terrorist organisation (Article 129a StGB) had no basis. The BGH passed the cases back to the responsible regional public prosecution offices to test whether they had merit on grounds of formation of a criminal
organisation (Article 129 StGB).

In June this year, the Flensburg regional court declared the raids unlawful and found the accusations under Article 129 to be without merit, before any charges had been brought. The decision by the BAW’s investigating judge to allow the house raids was thefore also unlawful. Apart from their houses being raided, the 11 anti-fascists were subjected to internet and telephone interception, including the interception of their conversations with journalists and their lawyers, as well as being tailed and the surveillance of private homes.

Noteworthy is the complacency surrounding these privacy violations and the – by now standard – practice of using anti-terrorist laws to curtail, control and intimidate left-wing political activists without any evidence of their engaging in criminal activity.

Parliamentary questions have not prompted the government into justifying these civil liberties infringements as the government’s answer to a question by the Left Party (Die Linke) in parliament reveals. Several MPs sought clarification as to how, and against which activists, the anti-terrorist legislation was being used; how many procedures were initiated on grounds of the "support and promotion" of a terrorist organisation and whether investigations had led to any charges and convictions. It appears that the authorities do not distinguish between the uses of anti-terrorist measures against Islamic or left-wing activists in their statistics. Nor do they distinguish between the "support" or "promotion" of a terrorist organisation and the formation of, or active involvement in, one. They only collect data separately on its use against the right-wing scene.

According to the government, 62 procedures were initiated against Islamic and left-wing groups, specifically against 103 individuals, and 845 persons were subjected to interception of telecommunications. In contrast, three procedures were initiated against the right, with only one person charged; no one on the right had their telecommunications intercepted.

A closer look at the annual statistics on the use of Germany’s anti-terrorist legislation shows that less than five per cent of the criminal investigations initiated on grounds of Article 129a StGB led to proceedings, and only one per cent led to charges brought in court. Alexander Hoffmann, one of the lawyers of the eleven accused from Bad Oldesloe, argues that:

"Article 129a is a political legal instrument – and is used accordingly by the Federal Public Prosecution. In this case also, the Article (as the Flensburg regional court ruling has now confirmed) served primarily to initiate the surveillance and criminalisation of unwanted opposition groups and their surroundings."

It was appropriate then that Monika Harms, the Federal Public Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwältin) who authorised the anti-terrorist measures to be applied against left-wing activists in the run-up to G8 summit, won Germany’s 2007 Big Brother award in the category “Government Authorities and Administration”. The Big Brother jury gave her the award
for the measures taken against opponents of the G8 summit and found two aspects particularly dubious and therefore prize worthy:

First, Ms Harms sought approval from judges at the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, Germany’s appeals court in cases of civil and criminal law) to carry out systematic postal surveillance in Hamburg, in search of letters from militant G8 opponents claiming responsibility for an arson attack. As a consequence, all letters in the affected districts
of Hamburg were inspected for suspicious external features.

Second, Ms Harms gave instructions for body scent samples to be collected and preserved from G8 opponents suspected of militancy. This caused investigators to seriously intrude into the private sphere and individual rights of the people affected.

The application for postal surveillance as well as the order to gather scent samples were connected to the searches of 40 private homes, offices, cultural centres and internet servers, under § 129a of the German Criminal Code (StGB), which penalises joining terrorist groups. This placed leftist groups and globalisation critics under suspicion of terrorism before the G8 summit even began. These methods have not led to the uncovering of any terrorist plots, but rather to widespread state snooping, data registration and processing. This illicitly gathered information will likely be used to chart social relations between potential G8 protesters and their opponents.


Solidarity websites with background information on various anti-terrorist investigations against left-wing

“Soll ich dir meine Datensammlung zeigen?’, Thorsten Mense, Jungle World no. 33, 14.8.08;

Press release by the defence team (Britta Eder & Alexander Hoffmann) of the eleven accused of Bad Oldesloe, 13.6.08;

Question to the German Government on investigations initiated on grounds of Article 129 StGB and related Articles in the year 2007, Drucksache 16/9941, 7.7.2008

Answer to the Question to the German Government on investigations initiated on grounds of Article 129 StGB and related Articles in the year 2007, Drucksache 16/10045, 24.7.08

Germany’s Big Brother Awards 2007

See also Statewatch Vol 17 no 2 July 2007, and Gewaltbereite Politik und der G8-Gipfel.
Demonstrationsbeobachtungen vom 2-8 Juni 2007 rund um Heiligendamm [The G8 summit and violent- prone politics. Demonstration observations from 2-8 June 2007 around Heiligendamm]. Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie, 2007.

This article first appeared in Statewatch Supplement, November 2008.
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© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.

Protestors against water privatization arrested on terrorism charges

# 11 El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror

in Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009

NACLA–Upside Down World, August 24, 2007
Title: “El Salvador: Water Inc. and the Criminalization of Protest”
Author: Jason Wallach

The Nation, December 31, 2007
Title: “GWOT: El Salvador”
Author: Wes Enzinna

Peacework, September 2007
Title: “Salvadoran Activists Targeted with US-Style Repression”
Author: Chris Damon

In These Times, November 13, 2007
Title: “El Salvador’s Patriot Act”
Author: Jacob Wheeler

Inter Press Service, August 19, 2007
Title: “El Salvador: Spectre of War Looms After 15 Years of Peace”
Author: Raul Gutierrez

Student Researchers: Juana Som and Andrea Lochtefeld

Faculty Evaluator: Jeffrey Reeder, PhD

Salvadoran police violently captured community leaders and residents at a July 2007 demonstration against the privatization of El Salvador’s water supply and distribution systems. Close range shooting of rubber bullets and tear gas was used against community members for protesting the rising cost, and diminishing access and quality, of local water under privatization. Fourteen were arrested and charged with terrorism, a charge that can hold a sixty-year prison sentence, under El Salvador’s new “Anti-terrorism Law,” which is based on the USA PATRIOT Act. While criminalization of political expression and social protest signals an alarming danger to the peace and human rights secured by Salvadorans since its brutal twelve-year civil war, the US government publicly supports the Salvadoran government and the passage of the draconian anti-terrorism law that took effect October 2006.

Salvadorans, however, maintain that fighting for water is a right, not a crime.

The conflict that confronted the small community of Santa Eduviges over their demand that their water system be de-privatized and put under the National Water and Sewage Administration’s (ANDA) control stands to be repeated now that right-wing deputies in El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly are threatening to pass a controversial General Water Law. The legislation calls for water administration to shift from the national to the municipal level and requires local governments to sign over water management through “concessions”—or contracts with private firms—for up to fifty years. The proposed law has become a lightning rod for opposition from community groups and social organizations who say it amounts to a privatization of the country’s water system.

El Salvador’s water workers union (SETA) accuses the government of engaging in a plan to discredit the state agency in order to justify privatization. ANDA’s budget was slashed by 15 percent in 2005, falling to its lowest level in a decade, a perplexing reduction in a country where 40 percent of rural Salvadorans have no access to potable water.

SETA took out half-page ads in the nation’s two biggest daily newspapers opposing the General Water Law, which according to the ad “would privatize water and condemn thousands of our compatriots to suffer thirst for the inability to pay.”

SETA members point to the devastating results of the recent privatizations of the country’s telecommunications and electricity sectors, which led to the firing of thousands of workers. Many of these workers were forced to re-apply for the same jobs at half the pay with none of the state-provided benefits.

Privately run water concessions in Latin America have a terrible track record. The most notorious example occurred with a project imposed by the World Bank in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Bank made delivery of a loan conditional on the privatization of the country’s largest water systems. When the Cochabamba water services concession ran by the US-based Bechtel Corporation raised household water bills by 200 percent, it sparked a civil uprising that forced the company to leave the country and the water system to be put under public control (Censored 2001, #1).

After Cochabamba, the World Bank retired the word “privatization” and replaced it with terms like “concessions” and “decentralization,” or “private sector participation.” But critics say whatever the euphemism, the end result is the same: higher rates, lower quality, and less access.

Outcry from international human rights organizations led to the release of the Santa Eduviges activists, after nearly a month of imprisonment. But instead of loosening their grip, in August of 2007, President Saca and his ultra right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance Party (ARENA) pushed through penal code reforms that changed disorderly conduct from a misdemeanor to a felony. Three weeks later, the government arrested eight leaders of a nurses’ trade union for striking against the privatization of healthcare services and lack of medicine. If convicted, the union leaders could face eight years in prison under El Salvador’s new “Patriot Act.”

“The objective of these anti-terrorist laws isn’t to fight terrorism, because there haven’t been acts of terrorism here in many years,” says Pedro Juan Hernandez, a professor of economics at the University of El Salvador and an activist. He says the new law’s objective is to “criminalize the social movement and imprison community leaders.”

The Salvadoran social activists fighting for water access, healthcare and education, and now the right to protest, have seen enough war, says Hernandez. “But the origins of the violence are in the politics, the unemployment, and the government’s policies against the population,” he explains. “We are back to the level we were when the armed conflict began.”

Washington’s support for these repressive measures comes at a time when El Salvador is the only Latin American country with troops still in Iraq and was the first to sign the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Adoption of a US-based Patriot Act and the housing of the controversial US-run International Law Enforcement Academy (see Story #4) establish Saca as a strong US ally in the increasingly militarized neo-liberal agenda in Latin America—sometimes understandably confused with the Global War on Terror.


So much of the destruction wrought upon the people of El Salvador during the second half of the twentieth century originated in Washington—corporate land grabs, environmental destruction, abuse of workers, death squads and counterinsurgency, harmful trade pacts and stunted democratic movements—and yet, a positive new chapter to El Salvador’s history may be written in early 2009. For the first time since the Peace Accords were signed in 1992, ending El Salvador’s brutal, twelve-year civil war, the progressive Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party has a reasonable shot at winning power in national elections (the parliamentary election will take place in January 2009, followed by the presidential election in March). As of late spring 2008, the FMLN held a comfortable lead over the incumbent, right-wing ARENA party, which has perpetuated the same harmful policies that led to civil war in 1980.

If it gains power, FMLN is expected to stop the disastrous privatization of healthcare and water access, restore workers’ rights, fight to amend trade deals so that they benefit more than just wealthy corporations, end El Salvador’s participation in the occupation of Iraq, and, in general, follow the path paved by pragmatically progressive Latin American governments—such as those of Lula in Brazil and Correa in Ecuador, instead of the fiery, combative style of Chávez in Venezuela. FMLN presidential candidate Mauricio Funes has made one thing clear: Washington is not going anywhere, and despite the scars of the past, he’s willing to work with George W. Bush’s successor.

I’ll be penning a series of stories in late 2008 and early 2009 about El Salvador’s upcoming elections for In These Times. In them I hope to broadcast the voices of those who are rarely heard, chronicle the evolution of the Salvadoran progressive movement—from guerilla rebels, to grassroots organizers, to politicians ready to seize San Salvador—and influence the way both independent and mainstream media in the United States cover these important elections. Please look for future coverage of El Salvador in our magazine and at


Since the publication of my article, and following an international outcry by human rights observers, the charges against the thirteen protestors arrested in Suchitoto have been dropped. The judge presiding over the case, Ana Lucila Fuentes de Paz—who I later discovered had been trained at the US-run International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in San Salvador—ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict the protestors. Under the “Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism,” the protestors faced up to eighty years in prison.

Despite this positive ruling, however, the story of the Suchitoto 13 does not end happily.  On May 3, nineteen-year-old Hector Antonio Ventura—one of the thirteen arrested and charged in the Suchitoto case—was murdered in the town of Villa Verde. Ventura was beaten in the head and fatally stabbed in the heart by unknown assailants.

There is considerable suspicion that the killing was politically motivated, and Ventura’s murder followed a spate of political assassinations against leftist activists in El Salvador, among them the January slaying of FMLN mayor Wilber Funes. Further, the killing occurred just two days after Ventura had agreed to give testimony of his experience at a public ‘Day Against Impunity,’ planned for July 2, 2008, by the mayor of Suchitoto. “Given his role as one of the accused in the high-profile anti-terrorism case,” writes a member of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), “Ventura’s death could likely be politically motivated.”

Members of the Salvadoran human rights community are demanding a full investigation of Ventura’s death, yet the government has not been forthcoming about such an investigation. Political crimes often go uninvestigated in El Salvador, and many critics say that ARENA has contributed to the climate of impunity by prosecuting leftist activists, such as the vendors and Suchitoto 13, while ignoring cases of alleged political violence.

The 2009 presidential election represents the biggest possibility for the Salvadoran public to reject by electoral means ARENA’s “iron fist” policies. Indeed, many analysts predict an FMLN victory in March. However, while many observers look hopefully toward the March elections, other critics claim ARENA has been engaged in electoral fraud. In particular, the ruling party has been accused of manipulating census numbers in FMLN strongholds such as Santa Tecla, Soyapango, and Las Vueltas, in order to deny FMLN candidates of government funds. Further, on May 9, 2008, Walter Aruajo, ARENA representative and head of El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, announced new restrictions for international election observers. The new restrictions, Aruajo explained, “intend to regulate that no group of observers come and take part in political activity in the country.” “Meddling in the electoral process,” he continued, will result in expulsion from the country.

Critics worry the absence of a clear definition of “meddling” could leave the door open for the arbitrary application of these new restrictions, and more generally, they worry that these moves foreshadow an effort by ARENA to protect its electoral power through the creation and enforcement of self-serving and constitutionally questionable laws.


In the year following the arrest of fourteen social movement activists in Suchitoto, there have been gains for the Salvadoran social movement, which launched unified, concerted actions to overturn the law and to achieve the unconditional liberty of the detainees; however, there have also been significant losses.

Thirteen of the original fourteen activists arrested spent twenty-six days under detention in the main men’s and women’s prisons. As a result of prison overcrowding, for some this meant going without a bed and having to purchase water for bathing and drinking. The thirteen were released July 27, 2007, under conditional terms that prevented them from traveling outside the country pending the presentation of further evidence against them by the state.

This waiting period extended for seven months, finally ending on February 8, 2008, at which point the state attempted to quietly change the charges from “Acts of Terrorism” to “Public Disorder and Aggravated Damages.” Given this change, the Special Tribune appointed to handle terrorism charges transferred the case to the regular judicial system. An audience was held February 19 for which the States Attorney’s office failed to show up to present their case leading the presiding judge to grant definitive liberty to all fourteen defendants due to the lack of charges or evidence presented. Despite an appeal by the States Attorney, the ruling was upheld on April 4.

Jubilation over these victories was short lived, given that on the night of May 2 one of the former defendants, Hector Antonio Ventura, was murdered as he slept in his small village of Valle Verde, Suchitoto.

While no one has been arrested or charged in the murder, both the media and authorities have characterized the death as related to the epidemic of gang crime which plagues the country, the most violent in Latin America.

However, the murders of activists like Ventura have caused human rights organizations to take notice. On May 12, the Foundation for the Study of Law Application (FESPAD), together with other social movement organizations, presented the case as the central element of a formal request to the States Attorney’s office to investigate this and fourteen other murders that they argue may represent the use of gang elements to commit political assassinations. They cite the “Combined Group for the Investigation of Illegal Armed Groups with Political Motivations” (1994), which established criteria for determining the probability of political motivation in a given crime: modus operandi, characteristics of the victim, and level of impunity achieved by the authors. Since the initial release of FESPAD’s list of fifteen suspicious murders, the list has been expanded to nineteen.

As of yet there has been no official response to these demands. And the controversial Anti-Terrorism Legislation remains in effect.


I strongly believe that it is important for Salvadoran society to be informed adequately on developments such as those that happened in Suchitoto on July 2, 2007, since that confrontation represented a strong risk for the country’s political stability and democratic coexistence—particularly after the achievement of 1992 peace accords that left behind twelve years of war, 75,000 deaths, and 8,000 disappeared.

From my perspective, independent journalism should provide Salvadorans in-depth information and analysis on the national reality based above all on ethics, giving voice to those mostly unheard.

Meanwhile, the assassination of Héctor Ventura—one of those arrested during the protest in Suchitoto—on May 2 has added more fear among those detained in Suchitoto, according to David Morales, one of the accused defendants, who then worked for Tutela Legal (Legal Guardians), a human rights agency of the Roman Catholic Church, and now is member of the Foundation for the Study of Law Application (FESPAD).

The fourteen detainees who were arrested during the demonstration spent twenty-seven days in jail under charges of “acts of terrorism.”

Lorena Martínez, president of the Association for Development in El Salvador (CRIPDES) and one of those jailed, reported that Ventura was stabbed in his heart while visiting a friend near Suchitoto. Ventura’s friend was also injured during the attack but now is recuperating.

“We believe this was a political attack; first of all, we were accused of being terrorists and during detention our human rights were cynically violated,” stated Martínez. When asked if the crime could be part of the country’s circle of violence, she replied: “It could be.”

The community leader said that the charges against the fourteen protesters went on for nine months and finally on April 16, a court dropped the charges against all the accused.

“It was a very tough experience; I could never have imagined being in jail in time of peace without committing any crime whatsoever,” Martínez explained, and added that mass detention “was part of the Salvadoran Government plan to criminalize social unrest which seeks to intimidate people.”

On the other hand, it seems there was no direct response to the article published on Inter Press Service. Nevertheless, I have to point out that most mainstream media coverage was biased, and in most cases only used government accounts of the confrontation. Further, some media did not cover police aggressions against protesters, journalists, and town residents not participating in the demonstration. The detention of Haydé Chicas, press officer of CRIPDES, while documenting the arrest of three coworkers, was aired by some media implying that she had been part of a protest that had blocked the road minutes before.

Anyone wanting further information regarding Suchitoto developments may contact the following persons:

Lorena Martínez, president of the Association for the Development of El Salvador; (503) 226-3717;

David Morales, defendant of those arrested in Suchitoto; (503) 236-1888; //’;l[1]=’a’;l[2]=’/’;l[3]=”;l[31]='”‘;l[32]=’ 118′;l[33]=’ 115′;l[34]=’ 46′;l[35]=’ 103′;l[36]=’ 114′;l[37]=’ 111′;l[38]=’ 46′;l[39]=’ 100′;l[40]=’ 97′;l[41]=’ 112′;l[42]=’ 115′;l[43]=’ 101′;l[44]=’ 102′;l[45]=’ 64′;l[46]=’ 115′;l[47]=’ 101′;l[48]=’ 108′;l[49]=’ 97′;l[50]=’ 114′;l[51]=’ 111′;l[52]=’ 109′;l[53]=’ 100′;l[54]=’ 105′;l[55]=’ 118′;l[56]=’ 97′;l[57]=’ 100′;l[58]=’:’;l[59]=’o’;l[60]=’t’;l[61]=’l’;l[62]=’i’;l[63]=’a’;l[64]=’m’;l[65]='”‘;l[66]=’=’;l[67]=’f’;l[68]=’e’;l[69]=’r’;l[70]=’h’;l[71]=’a ‘;l[72]=’= 0; i=i-1){ if (l[i].substring(0, 1) == ‘ ‘) document.write(“&#”+unescape(l[i].substring(1))+”;”); else document.write(unescape(l[i])); } //]]>

Student assaulted and tasered by police for asking John Kerry the wrong question
Police state USA: Student assaulted and tasered by police for asking John Kerry the wrong question

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 by: Mike Adams

Andrew Meyer, a 21-year-old student at the University of Florida, was assaulted by police officers yesterday immediately after asking Sen. John Kerry if he was associated with the Skull and Bones Society. Uniformed police officers brutally assaulted Meyer with a taser, jolting him with tens of thousands of volts of electricity as he screamed, "Help! Help me!" to a room full of astonished onlookers. The mainstream media is censoring the truth of this story, refusing to report the nature of the question asked by Meyer immediately preceding his brutal arrest and kidnapping (see below) by assaulting police officers.

A video of the event, filmed by Kyle Mitchell, is making the rounds on the internet and is available now at

The two-minute video shows officers grabbing Meyer's arms, throwing him to the ground and then, after Meyer is already secured on the ground, blasting him with a taser.

Here's a blow-by-blow account of what happens in the video. All dialog below is from Andrew Meyer:

Meyer is at the microphone, asking Sen. John Kerry a question. Police are standing behind him. "Are you a member of Skull and Bones… are you in the same secret society?"

Two uniformed police officers step forward and grab his arms.

"Excuse me, what are you arresting me for?"

Officers are holding his arms and begin to march him away from the microphone.

"Woah, woah! Is anybody watching this?"

Meyer holds his arms in the air, is shouting something to the audience to get them to pay attention. The audio is difficult to hear. At no point is he fighting the officers or striking them in any way. He is merely holding his arms in the air and attempting to stand his ground and be heard.

A large uniformed officer forcefully picks him up by his torso and begins to carry him away from the room down the center aisle.

"Help! Help! They're arresting me! What have I done?"

When Meyer reaches the back of the room, he does what any rational human being would attempt to do when assaulted by someone: He attempts to flee.

"Get away from me, man. Get off of me!"

He tries to run but is grabbed by officers and thrown to the ground. The number of officers now assaulting Meyer is six: Four white males, one white female and one black male.

"What did I do? HELP! HELP!"

The six officers pin his arms and legs to the ground and pull out handcuffs.

"HELP ME! HELP! They're arresting me!"

The female officer, with her finger pointed at him, screams at him, "Stop resisting!"

He relaxes a bit and says, "If you let me go, I'll walk out of here."

The female officer says, "Quiet down! Do it now!"

Then the officers forcefully turn him over and thrust his torso to the ground so that he's laying flat on his stomach, with his face on the floor.

"Why are they arresting me? Can someone do something here?"

"What did I do? Get off me, man! I didn't do anything!"

He tries to sit up, using his arm to grasp the edge of a seat and pull himself up. An officer pulls out a taser.

"Don't tase me bro! Don't tase me!"

The officer tasers the student, and the taser clicking is clearly heard on the video.


Another girl is heard screaming in the background (unknown at this time who it is).


Someone screams in the background, "Police brutality!"

Someone in the foreground (bearded man) says, "Stay back!"

Police escort Meyer out of the room and the video ends.

Welcome to the new police state

What you have just witnessed in this video is an authentic scene of police state brutality. The video clearly shows that:

? Meyer was assaulted by six officers, thrown to the ground and attacked with a violent weapon.

? Meyer volunteered to leave the room if the officers would let him go.

? Meyer did not strike any officer at any time. His hands were always in a defensive position.

? Meyer attempted to flee his assailants (as any rational person would).

? Meyer committed no crime whatsoever. At no point did any law enforcement officer accuse Meyer of committing any crime other than "resisting arrest" (which is not a crime when the arrest is illegal in the first place, see below).

? Meyer was arrested for merely exercising his Free Speech rights.

It is every citizen's duty to resist false arrest

There is no such crime as "resisting arrest." This is a fictitious crime dreamed up by law enforcement to accuse a citizen of a crime when they refuse to surrender to the illegal demands of the police.

U.S. courts have ruled on numerous occasions that resisting a false arrest is not merely a citizen's right, but his duty! In fact, courts have gone so far as to rule that if a law enforcement officer is killed as a result of actions stemming from a citizen's attempts to defend themselves against a false arrest, it is the fault of the officer, not the citizen.

Here's a short collection of relevant court rulings on false arrest and resisting arrest:

"When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified." Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.

"These principles apply as well to an officer attempting to make an arrest, who abuses his authority and transcends the bounds thereof by the use of unnecessary force and violence, as they do to a private individual who unlawfully uses such force and violence." Jones v. State, 26 Tex. App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93, 903.

"An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery." (State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260).

In other words, Andrew Meyer would have been justified in using whatever reasonable means necessary to defend his life against his assailants. The gang of six individuals who assaulted Meyer, regardless of what clothing and badges they were wearing, were threatening his safety and his life. They assaulted him with a dangerous and potentially deadly weapon, and they kidnapped him by forcefully removing him from the room against his will.

Was Meyer being annoying to others by taking up air time at the microphone? Perhaps so. But being annoying is not a crime. If it were, John Kerry, President Bush and practically elected official in the country should be arrested. They're all far more annoying than Meyer.

Additional information from the courts:

"Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense." (State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100).
Why did the bystanders not assist Meyer?

The most astonishing thing about this video is not merely the fact that six police officers brutally assaulted and arrested Meyer for his "Free Speech crimes," but that this room full of onlookers did nothing while Meyer screamed for help.

In 1964, a New York resident named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death, screaming for help, while hundreds of her neighbors watched and did nothing. No one called the police. The case of Kitty Genovese became a lightning rod for psychological research that attempted to understand the madness of crowds and why a group of people would do nothing to help an innocent bystander.

Today, in Florida, a room full of fellow students looked on and did nothing while their classmate, Andrew Meyer, was brutally attacked by an armed gang, right on the floor in front of them. They watched and did nothing. Not one person attempted to rush to the aid of Meyer who was screaming "HELP! HELP ME!"

Do individuals have the right to come to the aid of another citizen being falsely arrested? You bet they do. As another court case ruled:

"One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance." (Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910).

And on the issue of actually killing an arresting officer in self defense:

"Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer's life if necessary." Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529.

Why onlookers did nothing

The sad fact of this matter is that the onlookers did nothing because Americans have been terrorized by their own government to fear authority and follow orders. Americans fear their government. That alone is a dangerous situation, since the balance of power in a free society actually depends on a government fearing the people!

When the people fear their government, that government has complete power over the people. And our government in particular has used fear as a weapon of mass terror against the American people for several decades now. The U.S. government now has Americans so scared of fictitious threats that the citizens have submitted to the most insane security processes, such as surrendering bottles of water at the airport before boarding an airplane, or submitting to random searches of vehicles at roadside checkpoints.

In this particular video, we are watching a group of terrorized onlookers sit in their chairs and do nothing while a fellow citizen is arrested and assaulted for committing no crime. If all this sounds familiar, it should: You probably read it in the novel 1984 by George Orwell.

In a police state society, the citizens are turned against each other. Each looks out for only his own survival, ignoring cries for help by fellow citizens who are being assaulted or killed by the state-run police forces. No one comes to the aid of another because they, too, would then be arrested for "resisting arrest" and charged with some bogus crime (or simply locked away and "disappeared").

Don't think this could happen in the USA? You just watched it happen. You are witnessing the reaction of a nation of citizens who live in fear. There is no more rational reaction to police brutality in this country. Everyone simply watches it, tolerates it, and says nothing.

From this point there is no limit to the degree of police powers abuse that can now be perpetrated against the citizens of this nation. The sheeple have surrendered to fear and submitted to the false authority of so-called "law enforcement" gangs who actually have no respect whatsoever for laws.

Andrew Meyer deserves to be seen as a hero for his courageous actions in the face of police brutality and complete abandonment by his fellow students. His video serves as a powerful reminder that the citizens of this nation have already lost their freedoms, and if they do not wake up and start to protest, exercise free speech and fight against police brutality, they will never regain the rights and freedoms that once existed in this nation.

It is no coincidence that the police made an example of Andrew Meyer

One more thing worth remembering here: In a police state society, the state must, from time to time, remind the citizens who's in charge. This incident serves as a powerful reminder to those who might dare to exercise their Free Speech rights and ask tough questions of Senators or Presidents: Those who refuse to follow the propaganda will be assaulted and arrested!

The wild popularity of this video on YouTube only serves to remind millions of viewers of what might happen to them if they, too, decide to speak out and actually tell the truth at a public gathering.

Remember, the first rule of tyranny is that you've got to stop people from speaking the truth. The second rule is to punish anyone who dares to speak the truth, and the third rule is to make sure the people don't help each other resist false authority.

You saw all three rules played in in today's YouTube video. Watch it again at:

Thankfully, we're not yet in a full-on police state, or else you wouldn't be able to read this article. We still have some time to reverse this situation and take back our freedoms. I encourage you to do so in every non-violent way possible. Speak out! Protest! Tell the truth in an auditorium! Refuse to remain silent. Refuse to submit to fear and false authority.

Remember: The only way to protect Free Speech is to exercise it. Use it or lose it.


About the author: Mike Adams is a natural health researcher and author with a strong interest in personal health, the environment and the power of nature to help us all heal He has authored and published thousands of articles, interviews, consumers guies, and books on topics like health and the environment, impacting the lives of millions of readers around the world who are experiencing phenomenal health benefits from reading his articles. Adams is a trusted, independent journalist who receives no money or promotional fees whatsoever to write about other companies' products. In 2007, Adams launched EcoLEDs, a maker of energy efficient LED lights that greatly reduce CO2 emissions. He's also the founder of a well known HTML email software company whose 'Email Marketing Director' software currently runs the NewsTarget subscription database. Adams also serves as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a non-profit consumer protection group, and enjoys outdoor activities, nature photography, Pilates and adult gymnastics. He's also author of numerous health books published by Truth Publishing and is the creator of several consumer-oriented grassroots campaigns, including the Spam. Don't Buy It! campaign, and the free downloadable Honest Food Guide. He also created the free reference sites and Adams believes in free speech, free access to nutritional supplements and the ending of corporate control over medicines, genes and seeds. Known on the 'net as 'the Health Ranger,' Adams shares his ethics, mission statements and personal health statistics at

Indymedia centres raided across Italy

Indymedia centres raided across Italy – update

Following raids on social centres and a trade union office linked to Indymedia on 20 February 2002 (see below), the carabinieri also raided a Bologna office of the Association of Democratic Lawyers, with the same pretext of seeking "photographic/video material made by private individuals" relevant to investigations into July's G8 summit in Genoa. In a statement by the lawyers' association the search is viewed as "a dangerous precedent" and a "serious attack on freedom of thought and association". It stresses that they had received no request for the material in question, and that the result of the search was negative. The statement adds that members of the organisation were present in Genoa as "observers" and "guarantors of the respect for democratic freedoms". After the tragic events they witnessed the Association of Democratic Lawyers agreed "to collect complaints and relevant material", and envisaged carrying out legal defence for persons under investigation. This led to a participation in the Genoa Legal Forum, a collection of lawyers which is taking up many of the cases of complaints involving protestors.

On 21 February Interior Minister Claudio Scajola appeared before the Constitutional Affairs joint committee (Senate and Parliament) to explain his statement that "During the G8, on the night when the death occurred, I was forced to give the order to shoot if they [the protestors] had breached the so-called "red zone"". He denied his previous claim stating, "I did not give the order to shoot, which is not in my competence, but further instructions [to prevent] anything more serious from happening in the "red zone". Scajola confirmed that there was a situation of "maximum alert" following information received from foreign secret services on 13 and 19 July that there was a risk of Islamic terrorists infiltrating the demonstrations in an attempt to penetrate the "red zone". According "Il manifesto newspaper, the ineffectual parliamentary investigative committee established to look into events in Genoa (which had a duty to discover information rather than impose sanctions) was not told of this information, nor was the parliamentary standing committee responsible for overseeing the secret services. Scajola insisted that the policing in Genoa was not a mere public order situation, linking it to the attacks on New York: "After 11 September everyone has understood, [Egyptian president] Mubarak had warned us. In Genoa we were playing a serious game."

Statewatch News online story filed on 20.2.02

On the morning of Wednesday 20 February 2002 carabinieri (some from ROS – Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale, Special Operative Group) raided three social centres in Florence, Turin and Bologna, as well as a Cobas trade union building in Taranto (Sicily) as part of a nationwide operation linked to events at the G8 summit in July in Genoa, and aimed at the Indymedia network.

Genoa public prosecutors Andrea Canciani and Anna Canepa ordered the searches, and the search warrant clearly states that the raided buildings were deemed to be "Indymedia offices". The explicit aim of the searches was to seize audio, photograph and video material collected by the network to document events in Genoa, stored in the Gabrio social centre in Turin, the Teatro polivalente occupato (TPO) in Bologna and Cecco Rivolta social centre in Florence, as well as Cobas offices in Taranto.

In a press statement that followed the raids, Indymedia Italy labelled the searches as "an attack against freedom of information", and explained that "Indymedia has no offices, but works through the thousands of people who contribute to the website … to produce a free and independent information". Furthermore, they stressed that the material sought by investigators was "all freely available on our website".

The searches were conducted with the use of dozens of carabinieri in riot gear, and masses of material was confiscated, including (according to a report from the TPO) material which had nothing to do with the G8 summit, as well as computers which were vital for running numerous social and cultural activities in which the centre is involved. These raids are viewed as acts of intimidation against freedom of information and social activists, especially as the raid on Cobas offices follows a march during which this grassroots trade union brought around 150,000 persons on the streets in Rome last week to protest against the Berlusconi government's plans to "liberalise" the labour market. A left-wing radio station, Radio Onda Rossa, has had permission to broadcast on its normal frequency withdrawn this week by the ministry of communications headed by Alleanza Nazionale minister Maurizio Gasparri.

Indymedia has denounced the "partial" investigations into police violence at the G8 summit, "while the officials responsible for public order during those days are still holding their seats, and in a few cases were even promoted" referring to Arnaldo La Barbera and Ansoino Andreassi, who were given important posts in the secret services after being removed from office following the G8.

This week Interior Minister Claudio Scajola stated that he had given law enforcement officers orders to shoot if the red zone was penetrated by protestors on the evening after Carlo Giuliani's shooting by a carabiniere, alleging that information of an imminent terrorist attack from Egyptian sources was the reason for this directive.

see: indymedia and indymedia press release

Police espionage of grassroot groups. Example from Spain

Watching the watchmen: police espionage on Nodo50 and the anti-globalisation movement

In this report we will explain how Nodo50 has been monitored by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in order to point out that the Government knows everything that the Antiglobalitation Movement thinks and discusses. Hence it is lying when it maintains that violent actions are being prepared from Nodo50 including production of a sabotage manual, urban guerrilla warfare etc.

"On December 11th, the Head Director of the Spanish Police, Juan Cotino, declared to the EFE news agency that the Anti-globalisation Movement represented a threat to national security on the occasion of the semester of the Spanish presidency of the EU, comparing it implicitly to terrorism. He also declared that the security forces are investigating the Anti-globalisation Movement"
(Source: El Mundo,

On January 25th 2002 we read in the Spanish mass media of the "fears" of the Spanish Internal Affairs Ministry. An unidentified spokesman alerted officials of the supposed arrival of "4,000 antisystem militants", gathering to demonstrate against the EU summits which will be celebrated during the first semester of this year. Of the many comments, we want to emphasize the following in particular:

"One and a half months ago, the police information services detected a meeting in Zaragoza of radical groups, anarchists, squatters and supporters of leftish "abertzale", at which they suspect protest actions were being prepared for the six months of the Spanish presidency".
(Source: El Mundo:

This news and the nature of the information filtered from the police suggests that "something suspicious" was being prepared in Zaragoza. The news, gilded with violent shades, gives the impression that what was in reality a public and open meeting of the Antiglobalitation Movement, was little less than a clandestine meeting to destabilize the Spanish Presidency of the EU.

In this report we will explain how Nodo50 has been monitored by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in order to point out that the Government knows everything that the Antiglobalitation Movement thinks and discusses. Hence it is lying when it maintains that violent actions are being prepared from Nodo50 including production of a sabotage manual, urban guerrilla warfare etc. Most of the information included in this report is extracted from our server "logs". Neither special knowledge nor espionage skills has been necessary to collect this information: only the ability to read.

A clear example of what we considered media manipulation coordinated by the police is the note of the Colpisa Agency of January 13th 2002 which can be read at:

The poisonous nature of this information demonstrates clearly that the Ministry of Internal Affairs has the objective of preparing the ground for repression of the organs of communication of the Anti-globalisation Movement. A previous campaign of criminalization as a basic tool and means for power control is well understood by Mr. Cotino. Indeed it was this news from Colpisa that encourage us to make this investigation.


From the end of December 2001, the following IP addresses (the unique number that identifies computers on the Internet) have been making exhaustive surveillance of everything published on Nodo50:

[,] belonging to the Main directorate of the Police
[] and 194,179,107,131, belonging to the Main directorate of the Guardia Civil
[,] belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs

The identity of the owners of these IP numbers can be verified by using:

In all cases, the IP addresses correspond to a set of proxy servers. We have determined that behind the proxy servers were: 8 computers in the case of the Police, 4 in the case of the Guardia Civil and 3 in the case of the Ministery of Interior.


We have identified two main activities: A systematic tracking of all Nodo50's web pages and infiltration of different mailing lists.


The activity of the National Police is daily. From 8.30 in the morning until 21.00 during working days, with brief pauses at 10:00hs. (the coffee break) and a break of one hour between 15:00 and 16:00 (lunch and change of agents). There is also activity on Sundays though for less hours. In the days prior to the Summit of Ministers of Interior and Defense of Santiago de Compostela the activity was more intense, from 7:30 to 23:30 almost without interruption.

The activity of the Guardia Civil is also daily. It normally begins in the morning around 10:00 and continues until 14:00. The pause for coffee is shorter and the activity in the evening is minimal.

The activity of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is far less. On many days there is no activity, and when active, only for an hour or two.

In any case, all of the monitoring is by human intervention. We are not aware of any massive downloads of web pages by means of software for later analysis.


The mailing list of most interest to the security agensies is the, a private mailing list dedicated to coordination of the different antiglobalitation organizations.

We have ascertained that the following addresses have subscribed to the anti-ue list from Police computers:

– decancienes@xxxx.xx the 24/09/2001
– juanpedelucas@xxxx.xx the 25/09/2001
– pedritoanarka@xxxx.xx the 04/10/2001

From of the Guardia Civil the following:

– ferdihor@xxxx.xx the 27/09/2001
– moralespelo@xxxx.xx the 14/01/2002

Security Agencies have also tried to subscribe to the, a list dedicated to coordination of the thematic area of disinformation and communication of the campaign against the Spanish presidency of the EU.

The Police:

– decancienes@xxxx.xx the 24/09/2001
– pedritoanarka@xxxx.xx the 03/10/2001

The Guardia Civil:

– ferdihor@xxxx.xx the 25/09/2001

They were unable to subscribe to the moderated mailing list due to the requirement of a previous presentation for subscription approval.

Nevertheless, they have been reading the contents of the mailing list via the public web interface until the middle of January when access to these archives was restricted to the members of the list.

On 24/01/2002 there was an attempt by the Guardia Civil to subscribe to the list, a public list of news of the web of the CNT-AIT Union. The subscription was not successful because a non existent or non verifiable address was used. The address was and belongs to Repsol-YPF S.A..

Both security agencies are subscribed to the list, a public list of news published by Nodo50 with the following addresses:

– rianomasy@xxxx.xx (Police) from the 11/01/2002
– sane@xxxx.xx (Guardia Civil) from the 14/01/2002

In all of the lists, the subscribers from security agencies have limited themselves to only reading messages, just as they do in meetings they attend to note and monitor everything discussed and those proposing. We are certain that no active intervention will take place.


The following key words were searched using our search engine:

The Guardia Civil searched for the following words:

– Actividades+contra+la+Uni

Danish Police to provide the ‘news’ during Danish EU Presidency

Police to provide the "news" during Danish EU Presidency

The Danish Presidency of the EU has invoked powers to check people at borders and entry points for the whole six months of its office – normally this power, under Article 2 of the Schengen Agreement (to suspend free movement and reintroduce checks), is invoked for specific meetings for two or three days.

It is reported that the Copenhagen police are preparing special holding centres (for up to 300 people) in the underground carparks of police stations and the Netherlands police have supplied specially armoured vehicles. The police are reportedly anxious to avoid their over-reaction at an anti-Masstricht protest in 1993 when 11 people were shot. This time, apparently, they will be issued with tear gas.

In an extraordinary move the Copenhagen police has set up their own press room and website to provide the "news" when protests take place:

Copenhagen police to act as journalists

Danish police plan to act as journalists during the Danish EU presidency in order to secure a more balanced picture of demonstrations, according to Norwegian paper Aftenposten. On the site, two persons from the police information center will be writing articles on police actions during demonstrations as seen through the eyes of the police, writes Aftenposten, quoting Flemming Steen Munch, superintendent of the Copenhagen police:

"In newspapers and TV there is always a strong focus on heavily equipped policemen lying on top of a slight girl. What you never see is that two seconds previously the same girl has been standing holding a paving stone in her hand, ready to throw it at a policeman who is lying down. We think that we shall be able to write stories that have a beginning, a climax and an end."


Expulsion from Belgium and Schengen bans for anti-war protestors

Expulsion from Belgium and Schengen bans for anti-war protestors
– SIS used to curb dissent; Schengen framework used to curb free movement

Last Monday, 17 February 2003, Greenpeace volunteers peacefully demonstrated against the US shipment of military equipment to Iraq leaving through Antwerp harbour. A number were arrested, despite the peaceful nature of their protests, all were released without charge.

The following day, the Belgian Ministry of Interior issued expulsion orders and indefinite bans on re-entry into the Schengen area against seven international Greenpeace volunteers from Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Greenpeace argue that the orders contravene the Schengen Treaty provisions and that the protest was 'lawful' and covered by Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression and assembly).

In a letter to the Belgian Ministry of the Interior, Greenpeace say:

"The Greenpeace volunteers did not present a threat to the public order or national security of Belgium and other Schengen States. In fact their demonstration was in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of members of the public in Belgium and the Schengen Treaty area who peacefully expressed their opposition to the war on Iraq on February 15th. To issue a Schengen ban against these seven activists is clearly discriminatory and a violation of their rights of expression and freedom of movement"

Greenpeace cyberactivist site

SIS used to curb dissent

In issuing Schengen re-entry bans to the activists, the Belgian authorities are likely to have registered them on the Schengen Information System (SIS), to which the authorities of 13 of the 15 EU countries and Norway and Iceland have access (plans are underway for the UK and Ireland to join). This is not the first time that Greenpeace activists have been placed on the SIS. In 1995, a New Zealander, Stephanie Mills, was refused access to the entire Schengen area. It transpired that France had entered a number of international Greenpeace activists on the SIS as threats to national security; though after a lengthy process their lawyers succeeded in having their names removed.

Hundreds of activists names have been put on the SIS after protests in Salzburg (Austria), Genoa (Italy) and Barcelona (Spain). In most cases activists do not know they names are on the SIS until they attempt to travel again to a protest.

National authorities exercise great discretion over whether to register individuals on the SIS. Sweden and Norway are believed to have registered protestors after the Gothenburg demonstrations. Plans for SIS II are currently being developed and propose a greater scope for the SIS in the public order field, including a database of "violent troublemakers" and mechanism to prevent them travelling to international demonstrations.

Statewatch News online: Protestors database
Statewatch News online: SIS II proposals

Schengen provisions used to curb free movement

Under Article 2 of the 1990 Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, checks at the internal borders of the participating states were abolished. Paragraph 2 of Article 2 allows for internal border checks to be reintroduced:

"Where public policy or national security so require, however, a Contracting Party may, after consulting the other Contracting Parties, decide that for a limited period national border checks appropriate to the situation will be carried out at internal borders".

Research by Statewatch, shows that the member states have invoked this exception at least 26 times over the past two years. On at least 16 of the occasions border checks were reintroduced to counter demonstrations taking place at international summits. This policy does not just mean that identity checks take place during the limited periods, but that hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of people are refused entry to the member states to which they are travelling – a massive restriction of the EU's four supposed fundamental freedoms (of movement).

Spain has used Article 2(2) more than any other state. It prevented protestors joining demonstrations against the EU on four occasions during its presidency of the EU, as well preventing Spanish protestors travelling to the Biarritz summit during the French presidency. Spain also introduced specific border checks over the Christmas period when senior politicians were holidaying in the mountains.

During 2001, the EU announced that it would draw-up common rules on the use of Article 2(2). This is likely to be in the form of an EC Regulation based on Article 62(1) of the TEC. It remains to be seen whether the future measure will do anything to prevent the apparently arbitrary use of Article 2(2) and uphold supposed commitments to free movement – or whether it will continue to be used as a mechanism to curb another supposedly fundamental right: the right to protest

Statewatch table listing all the available details regarding the use of Article 2(2) (pdf file)

This table was first published in Statewatch European Monitor (vol

G8 Summit: Police raid targets media activists and l’Usine Cultural Centre in Geneva

G8 Summit: Police raid targets media activists and l'Usine Cultural Centre

Report posted to Nettime e-mail discussion list by Florian Schneider ( For more information see GENEVA 03 autonomous media collective website (

"Just before nine o'clock on Sunday June 1st, l'Usine – a cultural center and space for anti-g8 communications production in Geneva- was raided by police. For several days l'Usine had also been the home to the Geneva03 live-stream project that has provided continuous live coverage of the wide range of demonstrations, discussions and points of view, which have constituted the opposition to the G8 Summit.

The police made their first overt appearance at l'Usine in late afternoon. Riots were taking place several hundred meters away. Police closed off access on the streets around the bridge nearby. From about 7.30 onwards two groups of police occupied the streets leading to Place des Volontaires from the direction of the bridge 'Coulouvroniere'. They remained there and people were able to pass by them in small groups. At this time there were several hundred people on the square talking and drinking. In an effort to maintain calm, workers from the Usine brought down a large amount of food to the square and people sat down and began to eat.

Shortly before nine o'clock several vans arrived at high speed on the Rue de la Coulouvroniere outside of l'Usine and unleashed groups of plain clothes police officers, indistinguishable from demonstrators except for pink armbands marked 'police'. They moved immediately to enter l'Usine from the main entrance on the Place des Volontaires. Workers from l'Usine and others from the square attempted to block their entry by forming a human chain before the door and appealed to them to enter into dialogue, calling for calm and the avoidance of violence. The leader of the police squadron paused briefly and turned as if he had decided that they should leave, but almost immediately returned with more men, who proceeded to attack the people protecting the door. Armed with telescopic batons and concussion grenades, they pushed and then beat those at the door, ignoring any attempts at negotiation. As people scrambled to escape in the panic, riot police attacked again, hitting people with long batons. One independent video journalist was hit and injured During this attack and then arrested.

Police then entered the first floor of l'Usine and began to hunt people in the building, smashing windows and doors of every type throughout. Activists were subdued, handcuffed, or sent into hiding. Police then set to work on the inner doors, cheering and shouting, eventually breaking through into the back sections of the building. This section hosts the Geneva03 streaming project which continued to cover the raid live including the moment of the police eruption into the studio itself. Police battered at the door inside the Zoo section of L'Usine for about fifteen to twenty minutes, while activists were besieged in the media room. There, workers from Indymedia, Mute, Candida, Everyone Is An Expert, Lora Radio and other groups struggled to remain calm. The fact that police could be heard shouting and smashing things, made this difficult. A significant number of those present, especially from the Italian contingent, had also been present in Genoa at the raid of the media centre there. The stream was taken down temporarily as activists rushed to save equipment, but is now up and running again at ( Footage of the raid will be shown throughout the next days.

The activists were soon split into two groups and searched. Their personal effects were laid on the floor in front of them. These effects were then examined by the same 'black bloc' style police, who were by now peaceable and made all efforts to appear reasonable and controlled. Passports were examined and taken. The police phoned a source to check each passport. Eleven people were arrested in the whole Usine complex – for purposes of 'verifying their identity'- all of whom were later released.

After much consideration, orders 'from high up' came and the media activists were told that they could go about their work. All passports were returned. Contrary to early statements by the police, no tapes were taken. There is footage from inside the building from at least four cameras.

Why l'Usine?

In order to justify the brutal and unjustified invasion of l'Usine, politicians and police have alleged that building constitutes the center for the groups blamed for the destruction which has occurred in Geneva in recent days. The pretext for the raid thus was the supposed presence of 'casseurs' inside the complex. In fact the only people present inside were a handful of people in the public access internet space, workers from l'Usine, independent video-journalist teams and the participants in the Geneva03 project. This was basically conceded by the police officer who led the raid; their original intention had been to shut the building, but as their search produced no finds of either people or material involved in the disturbances, the order for closure was rescinded.

Throughout the week Geneva03 has operated with transparency to both the Swiss authorities, demonstrators and the public in general. Its live coverage that is accessible by anyone with an internet connection. The police were clearly aware of the stream, since upon entering the studio they immediately demanded it be turned off and that microphones be removed.

There are significant parallels between the raid conducted at l'Usine in Geneva and that against the Independent Media Center in Genoa in July 2001. In Genoa, the same association of independent media with so-called 'black block' factions was used to justify the destruction of legal materials relating to complaints against the police and video materials substantiating a series of abuses. The Genoa and Geneva events can be situated as moments in the ongoing attempt by the police, press and other Establishment forces to associate independent media with violent, illegal protest. The objective of these operations is the criminalization of independent media able to give voice to dissent and demand accountability over police conduct. In the face of widespread opposition to the policies and systems of rule advanced by meetings such as the G8, such a tactic is increasingly necessary to the authorities and its repetition signals that it now forms part of a normalized modus operandi. Freedom of expression and information have suffered once again the force of police repression.

And Afterwards

Ironically Geneva is to be the location of the first part of the World Summit on the Information Society in December this year organised by the United Nations. The summit co-host, Tunisia, has already flagged its engagement with the issues by arresting and imprisoning web activist Zouhair Yahyaoui, editor of online journal TUNeZINE and ardent critic of Tunisia's human rights record. In April, Yahyaoui began a second hunger strike in jail. With this vicious attack on independent communications Geneva has the 'privilege' of joining the list of countries in the world where expression is suppressed through authoritarian methods.

see also: G8 protestor to sue (link to Guardian)

Statewatch News online | Join Statewatch news e-mail list | Statewatch websites

German police raid border camp and arrest 250 activists

German police raid border camp and arrest 250 activists

The sixth German anti-racist border camp which took place in Cologne between 31 July and 10 August 2003 was raided by around 2,500 police officers a day before the official end of the camp.

On 9 August, the police encircled the camp, which had seen around 1,000 participants in 10 days of discussions and actions. They said that camp participants would potentially disturb the demonstration held in Cologne the same day by around 50 neo-Nazis. Police spokesmen claimed that around 70% of the camp participants were criminals.

Police were initially hindered from entering camp by around 500 camp participants, despite using tear gas and batons. The alleged legal basis for the raid was the police declaration that the camp was a "demonstration", then prohibiting it and arguing that all participants were therefore violating regulations on assembly (Versammlungsrecht).

In a siege lasting the whole day, the police cut off the water supply (despite temperatures of up to at 40

German police raid border camp and arrest 250 activists

German police raid border camp and arrest 250 activists

The sixth German anti-racist border camp which took place in Cologne between 31 July and 10 August 2003 was raided by around 2,500 police officers a day before the official end of the camp.

On 9 August, the police encircled the camp, which had seen around 1,000 participants in 10 days of discussions and actions. They said that camp participants would potentially disturb the demonstration held in Cologne the same day by around 50 neo-Nazis. Police spokesmen claimed that around 70% of the camp participants were criminals.

Police were initially hindered from entering camp by around 500 camp participants, despite using tear gas and batons. The alleged legal basis for the raid was the police declaration that the camp was a "demonstration", then prohibiting it and arguing that all participants were therefore violating regulations on assembly (Versammlungsrecht).

In a siege lasting the whole day, the police cut off the water supply (despite temperatures of up to at 40

Greek police plants incriminating evidence on protester

Greece: British activist released

Update 14.1.04:
Simon Chapman, who was arrested at the Thessaloniki Summit in 21 June 2003, was freed on 13 February by the Greek court. He had been charged with making Molotov cocktails which he said were planted on him by the police. See: Captured on film” (pdf with pictures)

Update: 27 November 2003: The “Saloniki 5” were released on bail from prison on Wednesday 26 November on the orders of a panel of three judges. Just before the decision the public prosecutor tried to order doctors to force fed the five – they refused. Suleiman Dakduk was on hunger strike the longest, for 64 days, the others including UK citizen Simon Chapman. joined him on 5 October. First picture (thanks to indymedia)

The five were arrested during the EU Summit in Thessaloniki on 21 June and charged with a series of offences which they deny. Simon Chapman was charged with being in possession of molotov cocktails in black rucksacks – he says he had a blue rucksack containing bottles of water and clothes: see: Captured on film” (pdf with pictures) and Guardian: Athens judges free hunger-strike Briton

Medical reports on the condition of the “Saloniki 5” Update 20 November 2003

On 19 November the Greek Public Prosecutor ordered an investigation and Statewatch sent medical reports on their condition:

Statement on the medical condition of the Five (pdf)
Statement on their conditions (pdf)

The “Saloniki 5” on hunger strike transferred to high security prison Story filed on 12 November 2003

Five people arrested at the Thessaloniki EU Summit in June have been transferred to the high security Korydallos Prison in Athens because of a month-long hunger strike. The five are: Carlos Martin Martinez and Fernando Perez Gorraiz of Spain, Simon Chapman from the UK, Syrian Suleiman Dakduk and Greek Spyros Tsitsas. They deny charges of rioting and possession of fire bombs. The hunger strike began on 21 September by Suleiman Dakduk who was joined by the Spanish men and Simon Chapman on 5 October and Spyros Tsitsas on 8 October. They began to refuse liquids last Friday and were sent to a Thessaloniki hospital. Two others are being held in a juvenile prison in Avlona.
Source: Kathimerini

Greece: The “Saloniki 8” and Simon Chapman Statewatch first filed a story on 24 July 2003

At a counter protest during the EU Thessaloniki Summit in June eight people were arrested and are being held on charges, known as the “Soloniki 8”. These include UK citizen Simon Chapman who faces the most serious charges of possessing explosives. The “Support Simon Chapman campaign” say:

Simon was arrested on Saturday June 21st at the anti-EU demonstration in Thessaloniki, Greece. He was by the anti-authoritarian block march which left the occupied university at around 5.00 pm. Initial scuffles broke out between the police and part of the march with the police responding with hundreds of canisters of CS gas and other chemical weapons.

Simon was caught up in this attack by the police and was overcome by the teargas. A police snatch squad then went for Simon and proceeded to kick Simon in the head and face repeatedly. At this point Simon was wearing a distinctive blue and purple rucksack as the photo in the pdf below shows. His bag was subsequently taken by undercover police who proceeded to place three black rucksacks of Molotov’s near him as the photo on the right shows.

In addition to this evidence, a film footage moments after the initial contact with the police shows clearly undercover police placing the bags full of Molotov’s near Simon as well as placing a hammer and pickaxe handle in the bags. The Greek authorities claim that Simons Blue and Purple rucksack does not exist! Well we know and can show different.

Simon is 29 years old, and works as a graphic designer in London. He is an anti-capitalist and in London has been involved with several social centres, particularly in organising musical events. Recently he has been involved in anti-war and anti-militarist projects and actions.

1. “Captured on film” (pdf with pictures)

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