FBI Copies Victims Property, Then Holds It For More Than A Year

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Peace Poster confiscated by the FBI

Click photo to see the items confiscated by FBI

Click photo to see video of the items confiscated by FBI

Express an unpopular opinion and have the government seize your property for year and copy all of your computer files. You think that might happen in renowned police states such as Russia or China… but in Minnesota?

It did.

Using loosely worded search warrants, the FBI seized and held the papers, computers and souvenirs of a group of Minneapolis peace activists for more than a year, returning them just recently.

On September 24, 2010 nine Minneapolis residents were served warrants by the FBI. Eight of them plus the Anti War Office faced search warrants that allowed a a substantial task force of FBI agents and Minneapolis Police to seize personal property including computers, cell phones, papers, newspapers, pictures and a range of personal and organizational materials.

Background on the arrests and the yearlong battle with the FBI
The UpTake story from September 24.
Second story of the day.

All of the targets had been involved in peace activism. This action aroused the anger of peace groups, civil liberty attorneys and many others.

Subpoenas were issued to appear before a Chicago Grand Jury. All recipients refused to go.

In January, 2011, it was revealed that an FBI informant had infiltrated the group and had accompanied a peace delegation to Palestine that was turned back by Israel.

There has been no communication from the Chicago Grand Jury since the last round of subpoenas were issued in January 2011. About a month ago attorneys for the targets filed a motion in Federal Court seeking the return of all personal property. Last week trucks began appearing at attorney Bruce Nestor’s offices with boxes of material, computers etc. Presumably all material had been photocopied and all computer drives copied for use in federal databases. Envelopes in the boxes were labeled by source, e.g. “Misc Documents from trash can.”

Records for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) were seized even though they were not listed in sketchy warrants. On document showed that the SDS made $27.00 at a yard sale.

There has been no communication from the US Attorney in Chicago since January, 2011 so the threat of further action stills hangs over the heads of the targets. Attorney Bruce Nestor says that the level of activity and the amount of government resources devoted to this action will probably result in further indictments and federal action.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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