[IWAR] LEGAL 'terrorist' label challenged

From: 7Pillars Partners (partnersat_private)
Date: Thu Mar 19 1998 - 21:08:27 PST

  • Next message: 7Pillars Partners: "[IWAR] CRYPTO Rivest; new techniques"

    Lawsuit challenges `terrorist' labels
     LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Humanitarian activists sued the U.S. State
     Department and federal officials Thursday on behalf of people who
     want to help foreign ethnic organizations that have been labeled
     ``terrorist'' by the government.
     The suit challenges the ban on assistance to such groups as
     The Humanitarian Law Project of Los Angeles and its president,
     Ralph Fertig are among eight plaintiffs who argue that the prohibition
     on aiding Kurds in Turkey and the Tamils in Sri Lanka violates their
     First Amendment rights.
     The suit filed in U.S. District Court names as defendants Secretary of
     State Madeleine Albright, Attorney General Janet Reno and the State
     Attorney Nancy Chang of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which
     filed the suit, said it is a direct challenge to the Anti-terrorism and
     Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 which makes it a crime to
     provide material support or resources to activities of foreign
     organizations designated as ``terrorist'' by the Secretary of State.
     ``Our clients have been intimidated,'' said Chang. ``They are not
     doing things they have a constitutional right to do because they are
     concerned about the potential penalties.''
     A conviction of violating the anti-terrorism law can carry punishment
     of 10 years in prison and a fine up to $175,000.
     Chang said the groups seek to support non-violent, legal activities by
     the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is seeking
     self-determination for Kurds in Turkey and the Liberation Tigers of
     Tamil Eelam (LTTE) advocating for rights of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
     The Kurdistan Workers Parter has been fighting for Kurdish
     autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The war has killed
     37,000 people and damaged Turkey's human rights record. In Sri
     Lanka, Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a
     homeland for Tamils, who make up 18 percent of the population. At
     least 51,000 people have been killed.
     In addition to providing, books, food, clothing and other necessities to
     orphanages and refugee relief centers, the groups seek to distribute
     literature and provide training in how to advocate for rights under
     international law, Chang said.
     ``Plaintiffs are afraid to provide such support out of fear of criminal
     investigation, prosecution and conviction,'' the lawsuit said. It asks for
     an injunction declaring the act ``to be unconstitutional to the extent
     that it criminalizes the provision of support not intended to further the
     unlawful activities of designated organizations.''
     The suit notes that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently
     ruled that, ``Fund-raising for the lawful activities of a foreign terrorist
     organization is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment,
     absent a specific intent to further the illegal ends of the group.''
     Among the plaintiffs is Dr. Nagalingam Jeyalingam, a physician whose
     family fled Sri Lanka in 1983. The suit says he would like to continue
     donating cash, food, clothing and other materials to help Tamil
     ``However, he is afraid to act upon this interest because he fears that
     doing so would provoke the United States government to criminally
     investigate, prosecute and convict him under the act for providing
      material support to a designated (terrorist) organization,'' the suit said.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 13:06:37 PDT