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Joe Iosbaker (left) and Stephanie Weiner (right) talk to the press about their subpoenas and the FBI raiding activists' homes. by Kevin Gosztola
Weeks after the FBI raided their home, two Chicago activists, Stephanie Weiner and Joe Iosbaker, stood before a crowd of about 150 Chicagoans gathered outside the Dirksen Federal Building and declared during a press conference they, and twelve others who were subpoenaed, have no intention to go before any grand juries and participate in a "fishing expedition."
Weiner read a statement on behalf of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, a coalition formed in response to the FBI raids on activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. She recounted, "On September 24, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war and international solidarity activists and delivered grand jury subpoenas to activists across the country. The subpoenas claim that the grand jury is investigating violations of the 1996 law on the issue of "material support" of "designated foreign terrorist organizations."
Weiner, Iosbaker and three other activists had been called to testify before a grand jury on October 5th. He shared that he was outside the Federal Building at a press conference and not inside giving testimony to a grand jury, as he and Weiner had been scheduled to do, because they were given a postponement until October 19th. Three others submitted letters invoking their Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
Iosbaker reported, "Nine others who have dates scheduled for later this month have also submitted letters invoking their right not to testify." And declared, "Today, we are here to state to the press that we too have nothing to say to a grand jury."
The fourteen activists have not been charged with anything. That is why they were called before a grand jury -- so the government could find information they could possibly use to press charges. Attics and other parts of activists' homes have been searched, property has been seized, but none of the activists at the press conference spoke as individuals charged with committing any crimes.
Weiner explained to the crowd and press that were present, "One does not even need to be opposed to U.S. foreign policy to recognize that the government is working here to establish a dangerous precedent in targeting us. This case endangers the right of every person in the U.S. to organize for and express their views."
The statement appeared to encapsulate the reason for the outpouring of support and solidarity the activists have been experiencing. Reverend Dan Dale, senior pastor of United Church of Christ, read an interfaith statement by the Faith-Based Alliance of over thirty Muslim, Jewish and Christian organizations and over eighty religious leaders and clergy.