Update - 3:10 PM New York Time
Here is the press release just out from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. It indicates that this is actually much more sinister than was thought initially. The Department of Treasury is actually behind the freezing of funds.
On Friday, May 6, the U.S. government froze the bank accounts of Hatem Abudayyeh and his wife, Naima. It appears that this is being done by the Department of Treasury (Office of Foreign Assets Control).
Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 activists from Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago, and his home was raided by the FBI in September of last year. Neither Hatem Abudayyeh nor Naima Abudayyeh have been charged with any crime. One of the bank accounts frozen was exclusively in Naima Abudayyeh's name.
Joe Iosbaker of the National Committee to Stop FBI Repression said, "We are appalled at the government's attempt to restrict the family's access to its finances. Not only does the government's action seriously disrupt the lives of the Abudayyehs and their five-year-old daughter, but it represents an attack on Chicago's Arab community and activist community and the fundamental rights of Americans to freedom of speech."
Joe added, "Apparently OFAC can block your assets pending an investigation on charges of "material support for a foreign terrorist organization" without a hearing. It's a bit like a chapter out of George Orwell, they don't need any evidence to freeze your assets and thus far they won't even acknowledge that they are the source of the freeze. In the case of these activists, assets means money for food and rent."
Bill Chambers, of the Chicago Committee Against Political Repression said "The persecution of the Abudayyeh family is another example of the criminalization of Palestinians, their supporters, and their movement for justice and liberation. The government's attempt to conflate the anti-war and human rights movements with terrorism is a cynical attempt to capitalize on the current political climate in order to silence Palestinians and other people of conscience who exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner which does not conform to the administration's foreign policy agenda in the Middle East."
The National Committee to Stop FBI repression is urging activists around the country to take action by calling, The Office of Foreign Assets Control a division of the U.S. Dept of Treasury, Phone numbers 202-622-1649 or 202-622-2420. Demand that they unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family and stop repression against Palestinian, anti-war and international solidarity activists."***Original Story with audio interview with Joe Iosbaker appears below.***
Right before Mother's Day weekend, the US government froze the bank accounts of Hatem Abudayyeh, a long-time Palestinian solidarity activist and organizer, and his wife, Naima. Abudayyeh is one of twenty-three activists from the Midwest in the US, who has been the subject of an FBI Grand Jury investigation since September of last year.
Hatem and Naima Abudayyeh have both been charged with no crimes. Naima Abudayyeh has not even been subpoenaed and is not the subject of an investigation.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression in a statement on this development declare:
The persecution of the Abudayyeh family is another example of the criminalization of Palestinians, their supporters, and their movement for justice and liberation. There has been widespread criticism of the FBI and local law enforcement for their racial profiling and scapegoating of Arab and Muslim Americans. These repressive tactics include infiltration of community centers and mosques, entrapment of young men, and the prominent case of 11 students from the University of California campuses at Irvine and Riverside who have been subpoenaed to a grand jury and persecuted for disrupting a speech by Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the US. The government's attempt to conflate the anti-war and human rights movements with terrorism is a cynical attempt to capitalize on the current political climate in order to silence Palestinians and other people of conscience who exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner which does not conform to the administration's foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.
I spoke with Joe Iosbaker, another one of the twenty-three who have been subpoenaed to appear before a Grand Jury. Iosbaker is a twenty year civil service employee at the University of Illionis at Chicago (UIC) and chief steward for the 1300 clerical workes in the Service Employees International Union Local 73.
To hear the interview, click on the play button on the widget below or click here . You will see an "episode" titled "Bank Accounts Frozen, Activists Targeted for Political Action." Either click "listen" or "download." You can also download this off of iTunes by searching for "CMN News." The file with the above mentioned title should appear.This flash video was removed for security reasons
For those who do not want to or cannot listen, here's a transcript covering the ongoing criminalization and suppression of activists by the US government.