URGENT NEWS ADVISORY
April 16, 2002
SEA SHEPHERD CONSERVATION SOCIETY ACTIVIST SUBPOENAED TO TESTIFY BEFORE FEDERAL GRAND JURY; ORDERED TO APPEAR IN SEATTLE TOMORROW
SEATTLE - Allison Lance Watson has been ordered to appear in a U.S. Federal Courthouse in Seattle (1010 5th Avenue, Room 311) tomorrow, April 17, 2002, at 1:15pm to testify before a federal grand jury. Watson was subpoenaed in California by FBI agents on April 6.
Allison Lance Watson has been an outspoken activist for animals for many years, advocating the elimination of vivisection, opposing the fur trade, and all animal abuse. While the subject matter of this grand jury investigation has yet to be made fully public, it appears to be targeting Watson due to her political beliefs and activism.
The U.S. grand jury system has received a revitalization of opposition in recent years due to its repressive nature. Witnesses called to testify before federal grand juries do not have the right to counsel inside the proceedings nor the right to take the Fifth Amendment unchallenged. Witnesses who do rely upon their right to the Fifth Amendment may be forced to take immunity at which time they must answer all questions asked or be subject to imprisonment on contempt charges for up to eighteen months or the remaining length of the grand jury.
Political grand juries have been used throughout U.S. history to target, harass, and intimidate social and political movements. Recipients of grand jury abuse have included the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, Puerto Rican Independence Movement, animal rights and environmental movement, and many more. Within the current U.S. political atmosphere of targeting "un-American" activities, grand juries continue to be used in association with such recent oppressive legal phenomena as the USA Patriot Act and military tribunals.
Stuart Sugarman, Co-Chair of the Litigation Committee for the Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, will be on hand Wednesday at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Seattle for comment. A critic of the grand jury process, Sugarman has a wealth of knowledge on the subject and has recently represented other political activists subpoenaed and targeted by grand juries.
In addition to being a veteran activist, Allison Lance Watson is the wife of Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Mobilization for the Protection of Civil Liberties (503)972-6764
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (310)456-1141