Constitution in Crisis :: June Newsletter

In Light of Due Process Violations, Charges Dismissed, Prosecution Sanctioned in J20 Trials
May 31, 2018
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Another Bad Day for J20 Prosecutors, With One Defendant Acquitted, More Charges Dismissed
June 4, 2018

Dear Troublemakers,

Before you scroll down to look at all the great articles we published this month, I want to pause and ask if you remember Reality Leigh Winner, the NSA contractor turned whistleblower? She was arrested on June 3, 2017, and charged under the Espionage Act for allegedly providing a media organization with a top-secret document that analyzed information about alleged Russian online intrusions into a U.S. election. Her story hasn’t gotten much media attention, but it should.

She has been in jail for a year now, awaiting trial. But Reality is a whistleblower, not a spy. She should not be in jail at all.

Urge the U.S. Attorney General to drop the charges.

NSA contractors like Reality Winner and Edward Snowden do not have access to the regular whistleblower channels. And by being charged under the Espionage Act — a 101-year-old law — Winner would not be allowed to defend herself by arguing that the release of the document was in the public interest.

Several months before Winner’s arrest, the FBI’s then-Director James Comey told President Trump that he was (in the words of a subsequent Comey memo) “eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message.” Meanwhile, politically connected and high-level government officials continue to leak without consequence, or selectively declassify material to advance their own interests.

Here’s our petition:

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
We urge you to immediately drop all charges against Reality Winner

Add your name.

The U.S. government’s classification system is being abused to punish whistleblowers, control the narrative, and suppress dissent. As Winner’s trial continues to be delayed, she may serve one of the longest sentences for whistleblowing without even being convicted. Reality Winner’s case is part of the war on whistleblowers. We must demand that all charges be dropped.

Stay Loud, Stay Strong,


In Light of Due Process Violations, Charges Dismissed, Prosecution Sanctioned in J20 Trials
While prosecutors were going ahead with closing arguments in one set of J20 trials, one floor above in the same courthouse a judge was issuing sanctions against the government for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence. In a huge blow to prosecutors, conspiracy charges will be dismissed with prejudice against ten defendants and seven defendants had all of their remaining charges dismissed without prejudice.

Judge Finds J20 Prosecutors Failed to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence, Mulls Sanctions
The prosecution in the J20 case was dealt another major setback today as Chief Judge Robert Morin found that they failed to disclose to the defense parts of an undercover video containing clearly exculpatory evidence. An edited version of the video was part of the prosecution’s case-in-chief during the first J20 trial and was expected to be so in an upcoming trial. Now, with the prosecution facing sanctions, there are questions as to whether they will be allowed to show the video at all.

Second Trial for Trump Inauguration Protesters Begins
The US Attorneys Office claims the trial isn’t about protest or dissent, but the crux of their case centers around the argument that a First Amendment protected march is a criminal conspiracy.

There Are Just Too Many Unknown Unknowns When it Comes to Local Police Surveillance. But Activists In Oakland are Changing That​
Orwell’s dystopic vision of a society where cameras and computers spy on every person’s movements may be upon us, but even his prescient imagination did not envision the rise of non-disclosure agreements.

Your Right to Protest is Under Attack
Russia is part of a dangerous global trend of countries rolling back basic freedoms for opposition voices… but so is the United States.

Rekognize the New Threat
Rekognition promises to “perform real-time recognition of persons of interest from camera livestreams against your private database of face metadata.”  In plain English, that means it can identify people in real time.

“My life was turned upside down not once but twice by our government.” How many times does Sherry Chen have to prove she is not a spy?
Concern — and activism — grows around national security profiling of Asian Americans in the sciences and academia.

Defending Rights & Dissent Condemns Police Violence Against San Juan May Day Protesters
Puerto Ricans have a right to protest. As US citizens, they enjoy the same rights to freedom of expression and assembly as the rest of us. This right is especially important given their complete lack of say in a federal government that is bent on overriding their democratic institutions. The police violence against these protesters is completely unacceptable.

Groups to DHS: What’s in the ‘Race Paper’ and Why are You Hiding it From Us?
More than 40 racial-justice and civil-liberties groups urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release an unredacted version of a memo referred to as the “Race Paper”

Defending Rights & Dissent Calls on Congress to Reject Cynically Misnamed Bill Designed to Hamper Human Rights Advocacy
Anti-semitism, like all forms of bigotry, is reprehensible, but the so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is a cynical attempt to exploit good faith concerns about anti-Semitism to silence student speech. The bill’s real target is not anti-semitism at all, but student political speech in support of Palestinian human rights. As such, it is unconstitutional.

Press-Freedom, Civil-Rights, Civil-Liberties Groups Call on ICE to Immediately Release Detained Journalist Manuel Duran Ortega
The Memphis police arrested Duran on April 3 while he was covering a local protest over the targeting of undocumented immigrants by local and federal law-enforcement agencies.

Appeals Court Reinstates No-Fly List Lawsuit by American Muslims Coerced to Spy by FBI. Victims May Sue Agents Who Listed them for Refusing to Inform
Today, a federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against 24 FBI agents alleging that they had placed or kept law-abiding American Muslims on the No-Fly List in an attempt to coerce the men into spying on their communities.