„Terrorism is the antithesis of America“

.. sagte Mark Bartlett, Bundesanwalt im Verfahren gegen Briana Waters, die heute zu sechs Jahren Haft verurteilt wurde. Eine 32-jährige Frau, die eine dreijährige Tochter hat und darauf besteht, unschuldig zu sein, obwohl genau das im us-amerikanischen Justizsystem zu höheren Verurteilungen führt.

Vorgeworfen wird ihr, bei einem Brandanschlag auf ein Gentechnik-Institut Schmiere gestanden zu haben. Ich bin keine Expertin, was dieses Verfahren angeht, aber es kommt mir sehr seltsam vor, dass in den USA in solchen Verfahren Deals möglich sind, die sich darum drehen, zu weniger oder gar keinen Strafen verurteilt zu werden, wenn man gegen die Mitbeschuldigten aussagt und sich selbst als schuldig bekennt. Im Umkehrschluss bedeutet das, dass die, die darauf bestehen, unschuldig zu sein, die höchsten Strafen bekommen. Und dass Terrorismus-Bekämpfung in den USA eher grobschlächtig betrieben wird, wundert wahrscheinlich auch niemanden.

Nochmal aus dem eben erschienenen Bericht das gesamte Zitat plus:

„Terrorism is the antithesis of America,“ Bartlett told the court. „It is the polar opposite of how democracy works in a free and open society. Terrorists attempt to impose their elitist views …. As a result, terrorists are treated more harshly by the law, and they should be.“

But Waters‘ attorney, Neil Fox, questioned the government’s use of the term „terrorist.“ And he asked the court to sentence his client to no more than 18 months behind bars.

„The court should be cognizant of the misuse of the term ‚terrorism.‘ The term clearly has been manipulated by those seeking to advance their own political agendas,“ Fox said in a filing with the court. „It is the scare word of the day, and the consequences of the expansion of the use of the term to brand defendants can lead to grave injustice.“

(Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Waters gets 6 years for UW firebombing)

Wer’s genauer wissen will: Seattle Weekly, 6. Feb. More Details Emerge in UW’s Eco-Arson Case oder http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Scare.

Bundesrichter stellt Verfahren gegen ‚Bioterrorist‘ Steve Kurtz ein

Gegen den us-amerikanischen Künstler, Wissenschaftler und Aktivisten Steve Kurtz vom Critical Art Ensemble läuft seit 2004 ein Verfahren, erst wegen Bioterrorismus, später wegen eines Gesetzes, zu dem es im deutschen Recht kein Pendant gibt: ‚Mail and Wire Fraud‘, am ehesten übersetzbar als ‚Post- und Überweisungsbetrug‘. Klingt unaufregend, bringt aber gewaltige Ermittlungen und Strafen mit sich.

Das Critical Art Ensemble setzt sich seit Jahren kritisch mit Biotechnologien auseinander. Zuletzt erschien auf deutsch ‚Die molekulare Invasion‚, (englisch vollständig online), in dem u.a. diskutiert wird, warum wichtig ist, dass auch NichtwissenschaftlerInnen begreifen, wie Gentechnik funktioniert und warum der Widerstand dagegen nicht zwangsläufig progressiv ist, sondern etwa ‚das Bewahren des Natürlichen‘ auch sehr konservativ sein kann. Andere Bücher beschäftigen sich mit ‚elektronischem zivilen Ungehorsam‚ oder ‚digitalem Widerstand‚.

Das Verfahren gegen Steve Kurtz wird im Film ‚Strange Culture‚ von Lynn Hershman dokumentiert, der vergangenes Jahr bei der Berlinale lief. Er beschreibt eindrücklich die Auswirkungen einer Terrorfahndung auf Betroffene und ihr Umfeld.

Wir haben im Herbst eine Veranstaltung in der Berliner NGBK organisiert, bei der Teile des Films gezeigt und die Parallelen der Verfahren diskutiert wurden (Dokumentation).

[Ich kann den Film nur dringendst weiterempfehlen. Er ist vorläufig noch nicht vollständig untertitelt. Sollte sich aber auf diesem Weg ein Verleih finden, der daran interessiert ist, Strange Culture in deutschen Kinos zu zeigen, könnt Ihr mich kontaktieren: ich würde ihn liebend gern fertig übersetzen.]

Steve Kurtz wird vom CAE Defense Fund unterstützt, der gestern eine Pressemitteilung dazu herausgab, dass das Verfahren eingestellt wird. Offen ist vorläufig, ob die Staatsanwaltschaft in Berufung geht:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 21, 2008

CONTACTS:
Email: media@caedefensefund.org
Edmund Cardoni: (716) 854-1694
Lucia Sommer: (716) 359-3061

JUDGE DISMISSES MAIL FRAUD CASE AGAINST BIO-ARTIST KURTZ

Buffalo, NY–A process that has taken nearly four years may be coming
to an end. On Monday, April 21, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara ruled
to dismiss the indictment against University at Buffalo Professor of
Visual Studies Dr. Steven Kurtz.

In June 2004, Professor Kurtz was charged with two counts of mail
fraud and two counts of wire fraud stemming from an exchange of $256
worth of harmless bacteria with Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of Human
Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public
Health.

Dr. Kurtz planned to use the bacteria in an educational art exhibit
about biotechnology with his award-winning art and theater collective,
Critical Art Ensemble.

Professor Kurtz‘ lawyer, Paul Cambria, said that his client was
"pleased and relieved that this ordeal may be coming to an end."

The prosecution has the right to appeal this dismissal. How the
prosecution will proceed is unknown at this time. If an appeal were
undertaken the case would move to the New York Second Circuit Court of
Appeals in New York City.

Lucia Sommer, Coordinator of the CAE Defense Fund, which raises funds
for Kurtz‘ legal defense, said, "We are all grateful that after
reviewing this case, Judge Arcara took appropriate action." She added
that "this decision is further testament to our original statements
that Dr. Kurtz is completely innocent and never should have been
charged in the first place."

BACKGROUND ON DR. STEVEN KURTZ AND CRITICAL ART ENSEMBLE

Critical Art Ensemble (which Kurtz co-founded in 1987 with Steven
Barnes) has won numerous awards for its bio-art, including the
prestigious 2007 Andy Warhol Foundation Wynn Kramarsky Freedom
of Artistic Expression Grant, honoring more than two decades of
distinguished work. The group has been commissioned to exhibit and
perform in many of the world’s cultural institutions–including the
London Museum of Natural History; The ICA, London; the Whitney Museum
and the New Museum in NYC; the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington,
DC; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de
Paris; der Volksbüne, Berlin; ZKM, Karlsruhe; El Matadero, Madrid;
Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Museo de Arte Carrilo Gil,
Mexico City and many more.

For more information about the case, please visit: caedefensefund.org

 

February 2008, Amsterdam, Damrak


The international competition to define ‚Terrorism‘ was officially just closed, but entries keep trickling in. One of my current favourites is a video made in Amsterdam in front of the Central Station last week by Eleonora Oreggia, aka xname. Seeing the latest entries I think the panel is going to have a difficult time chosing the best ones.


"What is terror?"

A collection of opinions on terror and its derivatives,
the real voice of random passengers.

Question to the viewers:
Can you identify the three key-words missing in the video?

The 12min ogg file is best viewed with VLC player (for Linux/Firefox there is this nice vlc plugin).

If you still want to participate: don’t waste time, send your contributions now: upload isn’t closed yet.

HRW World Report 2008

Chapter European Union

EU states show an increasing willingness to categorize as terrorism actions only remotely connected to the planning and commission of violent attacks, with damaging consequences for expression, privacy, and in some cases liberty.

Germany

The arrest of two academics in July raised questions about academic freedom and free speech in the context of counterterrorism. The federal police arrested Andrej Holm, a professor from the University of Humboldt, and another academic identified only as “Mattias B.,” citing their academic writings and accusing them of being intellectual supporters of a militant left-wing faction allegedly responsible for a series of arson attacks since 2001. Neither of the men is a suspect in the arson investigation, but Holm is accused of meeting with one of the suspected arsonists earlier in 2007. Holm was detained and placed in solitary confinement until bail was granted in August. Charges of membership in a terrorist organization are pending against both men.

 

And elsewhere?

In Denmark an activist who unexpectedly returned home interrupted a secret house search by the police recently. Now who believes this is a singular event that would take place only in Denmark?

In the UK, if you’re of muslim origin, admittely anarchist and e.g. have taken part in protests against the G8 summit in Germany, be ready to expect to regularly be questioned by the Special Branch at the airport. At least. Regular surveillance measures included.

 

Talking about strategies of fear

I talked to xname (who is this week blogging the Transmediale 08 in Berlin) already in December during the 24c3.

Our conversation touched questions such as who or what the ‚war on terror‘ is really aiming at (in Germany) and how it is used to create more fear in order to create public acceptance of more control. We talked about the history of anti-terror legislation in Germany, whether control actually makes sense from the point of view of those who exercise it – can all the data be evaluated or does full-scale surveillance rather create chaos? What sense does it make?

What possible strategies are there against being controlled by fear and what can blogging do for you? We also talked about some details of the case against Andrej – why was he made a terrorist by the police and what role did ‚conspiratorial behaviour‘ play in the investigations. Rather than panicking and thinking that now anyone will be made a terrorist – at random, so to say – it’s important to realise who is being targeted to understand what is going on. And finally we touched privacy and why it should be protected, precisely because some people are subjected to police action because of it.

Download 9 min ogg | mp3

Safety knots

Every now and then, I have phone calls with the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office). Or rather, I always have phone calls with the BKA, because everytime I am on the phone, the BKA is listening. To make it clear, because apparently concerning this, everythin is being misunderstood by everybody: I do not talk to the BKA. You just can’tt avoid that they are listing. And to make sure that the BKA is not misunderstanding this: I do not actively try to avoid it. Because, according to the files, every attempt to avoid this is „conspirative behaviour“ and thus at least in Andrej’s case virtually the direct indication that attacks are being planned, executed or at least confessed in written. Or that it is being prepared to plan, execute or confess. Insofar, I will keep my hands of behaving in any way conspiratively, which incidentally with such extensive surveillance measures is not particularly easy. That’s not right, I still use GPG. Not exactly consequent, but on the other hand I am not accused and in effect I have a certain right to privacy according to the constitution (Grundgesetz) and the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht).

Which reminds me that I recently used the phrase „and then they will certainly think again that we are planning attacks“, while to my knowledge nobody thinks that I am plannning attacks at all and then internally bit my tongue, because I’ll have to fear that the BKA and the attorney general will now maybe think that I might want to plan attacks. Which is not the case (hello BKA, once more for your notes: I am not planning any attacks), but maybe they will interpret it in the way that I identify myself so much with all of this politically-repressive mess, that I am a part of it. Although, it is just the case that I am included in the surveillance and thus take it pretty personally, too. About the effects of having it in the written that all phone calls are monitored, I could write a lot more, maybe later.

Back to todays phone calls, they took pretty absurd turns: Andrej’s mobile „didn’t work“ – that happens often, which is not really a problem, except for maybe that the attorney says that the phone should stay on at all times, to make the impression … cf. above. He calls himself from a landline and reaches my mailbox instead of his
mobile. He then calls me from the same landline with the request to call his mobile, which I then do. And I reach my own mailbox with the challenge to enter my mailbox PIN, which normally only happens if I call it from a phone different then my mobile. Does something like this happen, because different agencies are listening in at the same time, or because the circuits were messed up? Are there communication technology apprentices that are practicising on us?

Furthermore, our emails partially do not arrive. Demonstrably, tested several times. I am completely mystified on how that can happen at all, but it does.

A nice example for this is Andrej’s attempt from yesterday evening, to subscribe himself to a so36.net mailinglist: no reaction atall to his -subscribe mails. Thus I tried the same thing as list administrator, yesterday night at 22:56, no reaction until today 21:28. He was demonstrably not on the subscriber list. This evening, the IT experts of BKA and co. seem to have sorted so far that mails are coming through again, by now he is subscribed.

Nearly exactly two months ago, the Berlin LKA forced open our door at 7 am, knocked my sweetheart to the floor, stormed our bedroom and the rooms of our children with drawn guns and since then, our life has been turned upside-down. I cannot say that I got used to it, especially because the authorities are doing their best to not let normality rise (that is maybe the idea behind it). Therefore, and because I am no longer that stunned as at the start, I have decided to document the daily insanity. More at einstellung.so36.net/en.


(First published in German Oct 3, 07. Thank you, 24c3 translators!)

Posted in en

Letter to friends

Dear all,

we have not managed for a while to put together a summary of what is happening concerning ‚our‘ terrorism case. Unfortunately there was no more English language coverage in the media and we are moving closer to our personal limits when it comes to keeping up with the pace of this campaign. Now, near the end of the year when hopefully most of you and us will find the time to sit back and relax, I’d like to send you a short email with the latest developments.

Also please note the information at the end of this email about a lecture in English language I will be giving next Thursday in Berlin
during the CCC Congress which will be streamed via internet and later will be ready for download.

We would also like to use the opportunity to ask you one more time t consider donating for the campaign. We have received an amazing lot of donations, thank you all. Unfortunately law cases are expensive – as you all know – and we continue to depend on more donations to be able to pay an group of very dedicated lawyers, and support the seven accused plus close to 20 witnesses. In German law they are all threatened with up to six months of coercive detention and/or high fines if they refuse to testify against their friends, collegues or (former) room mates.
http://einstellung.so36.net/en/donations

The great news ist that already Nov 28 the other three who were arrested in July were set free. Arrest warrant still in place, but the Federal High court decided that they should be let out of prison on bail. It was not easy to raise the €90.000 Euro, but one day later everyone set free.

The other important detail is that the court in this same decision decided that all seven are no longer accused of forming a terrorist organisation. An intense public debate in most of the big German media preceded this, discussing how a terrorist organisation can and should be defined today. Most statements after the decision by the High Court agreed with us that this constitutes another ’slap in the face‘ of the Federal Prosecutor. On the other hand the court also decided that all seven are now to be prosecuted for forming a ‚militant organisation‘, §129 instead of §129a of the German penal code, possible sentences up to 5 instead of up to 10 years of prison.

Not what we had hoped for, but a lot more than most had thought possible.

=====================================

During this time we have extended our campaign calling for the end to all $129a-proceedings on the grounds that these inquiries are mainly used to intimidate and spy on activist movements. Several other investigations under this article against activists are being conducted.

// For background on the German anti-terrorim article §129a see again „Crime by association – Terrorist law used to criminalise critical research“, by Statewatch (http://einstellung.so36.net/en/ps/392). //

We have organised two larger events in Berlin in November and December that attracted large audiences. Both were recorded and are online – for those of you who do understand German. One drew the parallel to the case against the american artist Steve Kurtz, member of the Critical Art Ensemble and accused of bioterrorism in 2004 (details at http://www.caedefensefund.org). We showed excerpts of the excellent documentary by Lynn Hershman ‚Strange Culture‘, http://strangeculture.net/ and if you have the chance to see it don’t miss it!

// Audio recording at http://einstellung.so36.net/de/ps/723 //

The other event, „We are all terrorists“, took place in the Volksbühne theatre. Actors did a reading of excerpts of adapted case files in the beginning and then suspects in four different terrorism cases against political activists presented details from their respective cases. Often similar absurdities such as it being considered suspicious that a group of young antifascists did not participate in the protests against the G8, did not mention certain issues in their phone calls, did not discuss antimilitarim – they, too, are accused of setting fire to army vehicles. Again only in German, but very much worthwhile watching.

// Video at http://chaosradio.ccc.de/ctv106.html //

We’d love to have the capacities to translate all of this into English, but for the moment we don’t. If anyone can think of possible funding for translations/subtitling of any of this please let us know.

===============================
Coming up:
Thursday, Dec 27, 18:30 GMT+1 during the 24th annual Chaos Communication
Congress (http://events.ccc.de/congress/2007/Welcome!)

What is terrorism? And who is terrorising whom?
I’ll be giving a 1h lecture about life with surveillance as the partner of a terrorism suspect about life with surveillance and blogging about
it. Details at http://events.ccc.de/congress/2007/Fahrplan/events/2381.en.html

Find out when the live stream is happening in your part of the world at http://tinyurl.com/2r5klz

Details about documentation will be published soon at http://events.ccc.de/congress/2007/Conference_Documentation


===============================

Last but not least we prolongued the deadline for our contest „What is terrorism“.

You can still send in / upload your contributions with your definition of terrorism until Feb 15! See other contributions at http://einstellung.so36.net/en/what-is-terror/contributions and please forward this information.
All the best from Berlin and looking forward to a better 2008

Some background to the case against Andrej and six others

In the last days some material was produced that gives a lot of background to what is happening to Andrej and the six others accused of being terrorists.

See this new video on Current TV that also covers the Berlin demonstration Sept 22 against data retention and surveillance:

http://uk.current.com/watch/197704272

(I am still struggling with code for this site, for the moment you can just as well watch it on uk.current.com. Don’t forget to register and vote for it!)

A long piece describing and analysing the case and terrorism jurisdiction in Germany in general will be publised shortly on Statewatch, it’s already on the Einstellung website: 

Crime by association – Terrorist law used to criminalise critical research

  Continue reading

Posted in en

Florian Opitz facing 14 years of prison in Nigeria

Florian Opitz was arrested in Nigeria by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) and has to appear in court today. He is accused of ‚endangering national security‘ and faces up to 14 years in prison.

Florian Opitz is a freelance documentary filmmaker, author and journalist. His last very successful documentary „The Big Sell-Out“

„is a political film. In various episodes the abstract phenomenon of privatisation is depicted in stories about very concrete human destinies around the globe. The documentary tells tragic, tragicomic but also encouraging stories of the everyday life of people, who day by day have to deal with the effects of privatisation politics, dictated by anonymous international financial institutions in Washington D.C. and Geneva, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).“

Arrested with him were filmmaker Andy Lehmann (Berlin), Danjuma Saidu (Nigeria) and Judith Asuni (US/Nigeria), doing research in the Niger delta for their next film. They were alledgedly taking pictures of oil refineries, pipelines and ships. The Niger Delta has seen many bloody conflicts about resources, oil revenue and distribution of wealth, often depicted as ‚ethic conflicts‘ by neighbouring tribes.

Judith Asuni has lived in the region for 36 years and works with the peace work NGO Academic Associates/PeaceWorks.

Update: According to Reuters, Florian Opitz and Andy Lehmann were released on bail today. Judith Asuni and Danjuma Saidu are still in prison in solitary confinement. All four pleaded non-guilty. Continue reading