Two grand jury resisters walk free

Kteeo Olejnik and Matthew Duran were imprisoned for five months for refusing to talk to a Seattle grand jury

Topics: Seattle Grand Jury, grand jury resistors, Anarchism, Northwest, may day, Activism,

Two grand jury resisters walk free A support poster for Kteeo Olejnik (Committee Against Political Repression)

Two anarchists from the Pacific Northwest endured five months in federal custody, often in solitary confinement, without conviction or charges, for simply staying silent. As we noted last year, Kteeo Olejnik and Matthew Duran were among activists subpoenaed by a Seattle grand jury understood to be investigating property damage exacted on the city during May 1 demonstrations last year. Olejnik and Duran, following a tradition of activist and anarchist solidarity, publicly announced their refusal to cooperate with the grand jury. For their silence, they were sent to SeaTac detention center. On Thursday afternoon the two grand jury resisters were freed.

Another young woman, 24-year-old Leah Lynn Plante, was also taken into federal custody last year when she refused to talk. Unlike Olejnik and Duran, however, Plante was released after one week. Anarchist networks following the case feared that Plante’s resolve broke and that she had agreed to cooperate when faced with the reality of a potential 18 months or more in prison — the details of Plante’s case remain unknown. Both Olejnik and Duran maintained their resistance and walked free Thursday without having shared information with the authorities on other Northwest activists. Their release came after a federal judge agreed to a request for release issued by Olejnik and Duran’s attorneys.

You Might Also Like

The judge’s ruling (in full here) noted:

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. The court finds their declarations persuasive.

The judge’s comments explicitly note the physical and psychological toll of federal custody and the extensive solitary confinement to which the two detainees were subjected. The ruling reads as an unexpected testament to the activists’ resilience and the prosecutors’ punitive overreach:

Their physical health has deteriorated sharply and their mental health has also suffered from the effects of solitary confinement. Their confinement has cost them; they have suffered the loss of jobs, income, and important personal relationships. They face the possibility of criminal convictions for contempt… both she and Mr. Duran have nonetheless refused to testify.

“After both are released, though, they still could be convicted of contempt of court,” the Seattle Times reported. As I explained last year, the imprisonment without charge of grand jury resisters is legally permitted by the peculiar structure of grand juries:

As was the case with the Northwest grand juries resistors, the grand jury can grant a subpoenaed individual personal immunity; Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination are therefore protected, but silence is not. In these instances, refusal to speak can be considered civil contempt. Non-cooperators can be jailed for the 18-month length of the grand jury.

A fourth resister, Maddy Pfeiffer, who was taken into custody late last year, remains at SeaTac detention center and continues to refuse to talk. As the resister dictum goes, “No one talks, everyone walks.”

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>