› OFFICIAL: LEAH HAS BEEN RELEASED
First and foremost, do not panic.
Leah wanted for us to express these points to you with this news:
- She is extremely traumatized and experienced a lot of very, very bad things, but she is alive. The state of her mental health is also very bad.
- She asks that people do not jump to wild conclusions about her release because they do not apply.
- She spent her whole time in SHU / Administrative Detention (solitary confinement) and was told that that is where she would stay for the duration of her incarceration, up to 18 months. She was classified as “different” from Matt and Kteeo.
- She received probably near 200 pieces of mail, books, postcards in 4 days (mail was not delivered to her every day) and was glad for it, and knows probably a similar amount is being returned to sender right now. She urges people to step up support for Matt and Kteeo on all fronts. Books that didn’t get to her probably go into the prison library, which is still a good thing because from what we heard their selection is limited to romance novels and religious literature.
- More information is going to be released. At this time, Leah needs space from media. She is overwhelmed by all the publicity. Regardless of who you are, if you have her personal information, PLEASE do not call her, email her, or try to locate her in order to question her. Give her space until she asks otherwise.
- She was released the night of 10/17. She did not make it public immediately because she did not want the “media shitstorm” to jump down her throat yet.
- She is very moved by the amount of support and solidarity there has been for her, she expressed concern that Matt and Kteeo were not getting as much publicity. Please write them, support them, send them books.
Again, to reiterate, more information is going to be released in a few days.
Thank you all for keeping an ear to the ground and for supporting these people.
› 30 North Korean officials involved in talks with South Korea die 'in traffic accidents'
Thirty officials of the North Korean regime who were involved in talks with South Korea have been executed or died in “staged traffic accidents,” according to a human rights report.
In its annual study, Amnesty International claimed that in addition to the 30 who died in purges last year, a further 200 were rounded up in January this year by the State Security Agency as Pyongyang carried out the transfer of power from Kim Jong-il, who died of an apparent heart attack in December, and his 29-year-old son, Kim Jong-un.
Of those 200, Amnesty said, some were apparently executed and the remainder were sent to political prison camps. The gulag system presently contains an estimated 200,000 people in “horrific conditions,” the group said.
North Koreahas a habit of executing bureaucrats who are perceived to have failed the regime, even though they are often merely carrying out the orders of higher-ranking officials or members of the ruling family.
In 2010, Pak Nam-gi, the former head of the finance department of the Workers’ Party, was reportedly executed by firing squad for the catastrophic attempt to reform the impoverished nation’s currency. The result was rampant inflation and food shortages became even more acute.
The 30 men executed for failing to improve Pyongyang’s ties with Seoul are considered scapegoats for the new low point in inter-Korean ties.
› Unnamed Congressman Has Tim DeChristopher Moved into Solitary Confinement | The Dissenter
This is truly shameful:
Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, who was given a two-year sentence in prison for making fake bids in a Utah public land auction that was later found to be corrupt, has reportedly been moved to solitary confinement after a member of Congress contacted the Bureau of Prisons.
Peaceful Uprising, a climate change activism group which DeChristopher co-founded, states in a press release posted on March 27:
On the evening of Friday March 9th, Tim DeChristopher was summarily removed from the minimum security camp where he has been held since September 2011, and moved into the FCI Herlong’s Special Housing Unit (SHU). Tim was informed by Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington DC, complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his legal fund contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own. According to Prison officials, Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation.There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU — often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.
In the SHU, Tim’s movement and communications are severely restricted. In the past two weeks, he has been allowed out of his 8 X 10 cell (which he shares with one other inmate) four times, each time for less than an hour. The SHU could have been designed by Franz Kafka. Tim is allowed one book in his cell, and four in his property locker. His writing means are restricted to a thin ink cartridge which makes correspondence extremely difficult. He can still receive mail from the outside, but has no other form of communication other than 15 minutes of phone calls per month. [emphasis not added]
First off, this congress person who ordered DeChristopher into solitary confinement is a coward and should be unmasked. DeChristopher is powerless in prison. He is already being punished.
If the description is correct, it seems like a congressman is trying to intimidate DeChristopher for wanting to return money. To amplify the punishment because of an email is cruel. That the punishment is to place DeChristopher into solitary confinement is even more inhumane. In fact, it is what a fascist country would do to a political prisoner.
The identity of the member of Congress who is doing this to DeChristopher is still unknown. Peaceful Uprising hopes “investigative journalism and public pressure” will lead to the member’s identity becoming known.
And, the Associated Press provides additional confirmation that DeChristopher was moved to solitary. They spoke to DeChristopher’s lawyer Pat Shea, who told AP “prison officials in California, where DeChristopher is held, told the jailed activist that a congressman complained about an email he sent to some of his supporters.” Because of the complaint, he is now being held in isolation.
Read the rest here.
More on the story from Common Dreams.
› Egyptian judge frees anti-junta blogger | The Guardian
One of Egypt’s most prominent revolutionaries has been released from jail after almost two months during which he missed the birth of his first child.
An Egyptian investigative judge ordered that Alaa Abd El Fattah, who has been at the forefront of anti-regime struggles for a decade and was a political prisoner during the Mubarak era, be freed pending investigation into charges that he incited violence against the military.
A picture posted by his sister Mona Seif showed him holding his new-born son Khaled on his release. His wife Manal Hassan, who is also an activist, gave birth to the couple’s first child while he was in detention.
Great news. Read more →
› Egypt's 12,001 missing votes: How can Egypt's elections be described as free and non-violent when the country has so many political prisoners?
What does this election mean when thousands are jailed merely for opposing those in power (or, for many, merely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time)? What do these elections mean when one of the country’s well-known bloggers, Alaa Abdel Fattah, can be held for weeks on charges surrounding his reporting of the military’s massacre of Coptic protesters in October, when voters are threatened with 500 Egyptian pound fines if they don’t vote, and when the military uses massive amounts of tear-gas, and even bullets on pro-democracy protesters whenever it feels its position threatened?
Read the article here.
› Blogger @Alaa Gets Another 15 Days in Detention, Orders State Security Prosecution
The High State Security Prosecution has ordered the extension of blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s detention for another 15 days, pending investigations.
Abd El-Fattah was accused by the military prosecution of theft of military arms, attacking military personnel, destroying military properties and inciting hate and violence against military personnel during the 9 October Maspero clashes in which a number of activists and protesters died, some run over by military vehicles.
He was detained pending investigation for nearly a month while refusing to cooperate with the military prosecution given his refusal of military trials for civilians.
Abd El-Fattah also refused to cooperate with the military prosecution because in his view the military police was involved in the Maspero clashes; thus the military prosecution should not investigate this case, demanding an independent civilian prosecution committee to investigate the case.
The Maspero clashes case was referred from military to civil prosecution by the orders of head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshal Tantawi based on SCAF communique 82 last Tuesday.
Despite that many expected that the case be referred to the general prosecution, it was transferred to the High State Security Prosecution, which is an exceptional prosecution body that functions under emergency law and does not accepts appeals but only pardons from the head of state.
Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s mother has been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks demanding his release while his wife, blogger and activist Manal Hassan, is expected to give birth to their son Khaled this week.
› Four Decades of Cruelty and Inhumanity to U.S. Political Prisoners
For almost 40 years, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace have been in solitary confinement at Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Prison, in what is thought to be the longest period of enforced solitude in America’s vast prison gulag. Amnesty International says their treatment is “cruel and inhumane and a violation of the US’s obligations under international law.” Woodfox is now 64 years old, and Wallace is 69. They are two of the original Angola 3, convicted of the murder of a prison guard in 1972. The other member of the trio, Robert King, was released after 29 years in solitary confinement after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
Under the conditions of solitary confinement, Woodfox and Wallace are restricted to their tiny cells for 23 hours a day. Three times a week, for an hour, they are allowed to exercise in an outdoor cage, if weather permits. For 40 years, they have not been allowed access to work or to education. And there has been no legitimate review of their cases in all that time.
There was never any physical evidence of the men’s guilt, only the very questionable testimony of other inmates, one of whom was bribed by officials and another of whom retracted his testimony. Woodfox and Wallace and King have been subjected to the greatest cruelties Louisiana has to offer because they became political prisoners after entering Angola, when they formed a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party. One prison official says flatly, that “there’s been no rehabilitation” from “practicing Black Pantherism.” In other words, the prison considers their politics to be their crime.
Albert Woodfox’s conviction has twice been overturned by lower courts on the basis of racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense and suppression of evidence. But the U.S. Court of Appeals decided that Woodfox’s fate was Louisiana’s business. Amnesty International demands only that the two elderly prisoners be released from solitary. Woodfox and Wallace, it should be pointed out, became political prisoners after initially being incarcerated for criminal offenses.
For more perspective on the psychological and physical effects of solitary confinement read this piece from Atul Gawande. In the piece, Gawande explores the question, “is solitary confinement torture?”.