Three of the Minneapolis peace activists whose homes were raided by the FBI in September may end up spending the holidays in prison.
At the time of the raids, which targeted 14 activists in the Twin Cities, Illinois and Chicago, the subjects were given subpoenas for a grand jury investigating possible links with terrorism.
The activists dismiss the investigation as an effort to chill dissident speech. They say they have done nothing wrong, and refused to testify before the grand jury, invoking their fifth-amendment protection against testifying against themselves.
But now the Grand Jury has told three of the Minnesota activists -- Sarah Martin, Tracy Molm, and Anh Pham -- that they will have to testify after all. If the Grand Jury grants them immunity, they will have no choice but to testify or face jail-time for contempt.
Jess Sundin, one of those who received the first round of subpoenas, says she expects the rest of the group to be called to testify eventually as well, but that all of them would rather go to jail than testify against each other.
Sarah Martin, a 71-year-old great-grandmother, hopes it doesn't come to jail time. "I take care of my 94-year-old mother," she said. "I help take care of my great-grandson. I worry about what would happen if I couldn't be there during the holidays."
Still, Martin said, she's hopeful that it won't come to that.
"I don't think the FBI knew what they were getting into when they started this. We've been getting a lot of support, because this is basically about whether the government can use the law to prosecute people who do international solidarity work. The stakes are high for us. We're not going to back down."
Three Minnesota anti-war activists who refused to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago after their homes were raided in a terrorism investigation have been told they'll be called again, an attorney told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
In late September, authorities searched seven homes and an office in Minneapolis and Chicago in what the FBI said was an investigation into material support of terrorism. Fourteen activists in the two states were summoned to testify, but they refused and their subpoenas were postponed.
None of the activists have been charged. Warrants suggest agents were looking for connections between them and terrorist groups in Colombia and the Middle East.
Bruce Nestor, an attorney who represents some of the activists, said Wednesday that three of them have been told they'll be called back to the grand jury, but it's not clear when. Individual attorneys for those activists are working out details with prosecutors, Nestor said.
"They don't have a specific date, but they are being told that basically they will be called back in front of the grand jury," Nestor said. "They all have individual counsel, and those individual counsel are in the process of discussing with the U.S. attorney the details as to how proceed."
Randall Samborn, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, declined to comment about the case, saying he could neither confirm nor deny anything involving a federal grand jury because such proceedings are confidential.
Nestor said activists Anh Pham, Sarah Martin and Tracy Molm — whose homes were raided in September — have been told they'll be called again before the grand jury.
"These three are being called back, and within a matter of weeks will be facing the decision of testifying or facing contempt," Nestor said.
Pham said Wednesday she knew little about the situation and declined comment until she had a chance to talk to her attorney. Messages left for Martin were not immediately returned, and a phone number for Molm was not immediately available.
The activists said previously that they wouldn't appear before a grand jury because they felt grand juries had historically been used to harass activists and that testifying in secret would stifle free speech.
The government has not revealed the target of its investigation, but the activists have said they felt singled out because of their work in the anti-war movement.
"The government is not saying much, and they kind of hold all the cards at the moment," Nestor said.