Seattle — On Feb. 28, anti-corporate activists Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik and Matthew Duran were released from the Sea-Tac Federal Detention Center after more than five months behind bars, including two months in solitary confinement. They had been imprisoned for refusing to testify to a federal grand jury in Seattle that is investigating local Occupy and anarchist movements.
They were met by their families and supporters as they left the prison. A third activist, Maddy Pfeiffer, remains imprisoned, although he was released from solitary confinement. Another activist, Kerry Cunneen, was subpoenaed but refused to appear before the grand jury.
Grand juries have long been used to investigate activists’ political beliefs, associations and friendships as a way to repress the progressive political movement. This latest grand jury was supposed to be investigating a May Day 2012 demonstration where corporations were attacked and windows broken. But the grand jury investigation began even before that demonstration had occurred,
According to Judge Richard Jones’ decision: “Both Ms. Olejnik and Mr. Duran have provided extensive declarations explaining that although they wish to end their confinement, they will never end their confinement by testifying … . Their confinement has cost them, they have suffered the loss of jobs, income and important personal relationships … . For these reasons, however, their resolve appears to increase as their confinement continues.”
A member of the Committee Against Political Repression, identified as Chris, stated, “They never should have been there to begin with, and Maddy Pfeiffer remains in prison for their refusal to cooperate with this political witch-hunt.”