Activists raided by FBI won’t be forced to testify — for now

The grand jury subpoenas against more than a dozen activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and Michigan have been dropped.

After the FBI raided six Twin Cities homes in a terrorist probe and handed out the subpoenas, the recipients announced they would refuse to testify, calling the whole investigation an intimidation tactic and denying that they had provided material aid to terrorist organizations in Colombia and the Middle East, as the grand jury documents suggested.

Through their lawyers, the activists made it clear that if the grand jury flew them to Chicago, they would invoke their fifth-amendment right not to incriminate themselves. Word came back from the prosecutor thatif that’s how it was going to go, they didn’t need to show up.

But Mick Kelly said he and the other people subpoenaed aren’t resting easy.  “It’s a waiting period,” Kelly said today. “We’re all waiting to see if the other shoe drops.”

The other shoe would be a second set of subpoenas. If the grand jury imposes immunity on the activists, they won’t be able to invoke their fifth amendment rights. They have said they’ll still refuse to testify, even though the consequences in that case would be jail-time.

“If they’ve been reading the press, they know that,” said Jess Sundin, another Minneapolis resident who received a subpoena.

Whether the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago really wants to send people to jail in a case that is already drawing widespread condemnation as government suppression of political speech is unclear. Government officials are not commenting on the case.

But Sundin said the activists lawyers have warned them not to expect the grand jury to roll over and die. “The government has put a lot of time and effort and money into this case already,” Sundin said today. “It would be pretty surprising for them to just walk away now.”