Stranger. Sept 30:
That’s how long Olympia resident Matt Duran has been held at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury, ostensibly about political or social acquaintances who may have had something to do with the political vandalism on May Day.
At least three people have appeared before the grand jury after a series of raids and subpoenas issued in July. The warrants for the raids listed black clothes, sticks, paint, notebooks, and “anti-government or anarchist literature or material” among the items to search for.
Two of the three—Matt Duran and Katherine “KteeO” Olejnik—are currently imprisoned at the SeaTac FDC for refusing to cooperate. The third, Leah-Lynn Plante, who prosecutors admit was not in Seattle on May Day, remains free.
Duran had a hearing last week. Some eyewitness details fromnopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com:
… Matt’s lawyer took the floor to explain Matt’s current conditions and intentions. Here is an abridged and bullet-point list of issues and information brought up by Matt’s lawyer in court —
Matt is in Solitary Confinement (the Secure Housing Unit) which means …
+ he has very little access to phone
+ he has been denied the ability to initiate contact with attorney
+ he has been denied visitor request forms
+ he has been denied vegan food (has access to vegetarian options and commissary items)
+ he has no way of socializing within the prison
+ he has no access to sunlight, fresh air or an untinted window to the outdoors
Even under these conditions, Matt has no intention of changing his mind or strategy. Matt’s lawyer explained that Matt will be at peace no matter where he is within the prison. She said that he would like to socialize and play chess with other inmates, but is content where he is. He has a clock radio and a couple of romance novels the prison gave him upon arrival.
The local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild has urged the FBI and US Attorney Jenny Durkan to drop the subpoenas, arguing:
While grand juries are part of our federal criminal justice system, the grand jury was intended to serve as a protector of people’s rights and should not be used as a mechanism for intimidating those who speak out against social and economic injustice in our society. “Movements and individuals working for social change in the United States have historically been at the receiving end of grand juries being used to harass political activism,” said Neil Kelley, an officer of the Seattle NLG.
Throughout the process, Emily Langlie from the US Attorney’s office has reiterated: “We do not prosecute people for their political beliefs.”