FBI agents serve new subpoena to appear at a grand jury investigating 2008 arson in Santa Cruz.
A heads-up that one person in California has been subpoenaed to a grand jury by FBI agents. From the subpoena, it appears the grand jury is investigating a fire set at the home of a UC-Santa Cruz animal researcher in 2008. There was no claim of responsibility for the fire, and there is no evidence activists were responsible. Nonetheless, the incident became the impetus for the "AETA 4" case, which saw the indictment of four Bay Area activists before charges were dismissed in 2010.
The full statement from the person subpoenaed reads:
"I HAVE BEEN SUBPOENAED BEFORE A GRAND JURY
On Friday May 4th, I was approached by two FBI agents at the BART Station at 19th and Broadway in Oakland. They asked my name, identified themselves as Carrie and Matt from the FBI, and served me a subpoena to testify before a federal Grand Jury. They informed me that I had been served and left without asking me any other questions.
From the face of the Grand Jury Subpoena, it appears related to an animal rights action that took place in Santa Cruz in August of 2008. I know nothing about the Santa Cruz action but believe this is a political prosecution and part of a government attempt to gather information on activists, specifically involved in the animal rights movement.
I will be getting a lawyer and plan to exercise my rights to the fullest extent. If anyone else receives a similar subpoena or a visit from the FBI, you can contact the National Lawyers Guild for advice on you rights.
This is the second time I have come into contact with the FBI. A couple of years ago, I had to deal with the Oakland Police Department regarding a private criminal matter, unrelated to activism, and without my knowledge was interviewed by an FBI agent. He began to ask me questions about my activism and political affiliations. I asked what agency he was from and I immediately stopped answering any questions. Probably unrelated but you never know.
I feel that it is important to let folks know about this political repression and to let people know that I will be needing support. However, the lawyer I did briefly speak with advised me not to answer any questions about the facts the case. I can talk about what the government’s allegations are and what is happening with court appearances but I can’t answer questions about the facts so please don’t ask.
in solidarity, Jose Palafox, 5/9/12"
We have learned that two other close comrades have recently been contacted by the FBI as part of the FBI’s investigation into animal rights actions that took place in Santa Cruz in August of 2008. One of the people contacted was also subpoenaed to appear before a Grand Jury (same date/time as mine). They are both in contact with the NLG and are seeking counsel.
We are holding a series of teach-ins to help demystify grand juries–the history, purpose, process, and resistance–as well as inform folks of your rights and what to do if an agent approaches you. San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and folks here in Oakland, get in touch with us.
We are very grateful for the legal defense on the part of our lawyers, however, its also important to remember the political realm of this struggle. If you are interested in getting involved, please get in touch with us.
Staying strong, Jose Palafox