October 16, 2012 8:16 am
A Defense of Contempt
By Kristian Williams
Since September 13, a young anarchist named Matt Duran has been held in federal prison, and he may remain there until March 2014. He is not being detained for anything he has done, or even anything he is accused of doing. He is instead in prison for something he steadfastly refuses to do.
Duran was subpoenaed before a federal grand jury investigating the anarchist movement and – though he appeared at the appointed time — he refused to answer any of the questions US Attorney Jenny Durkin put to him. As a consequence, he was charged with contempt of court and incarcerated.
This situation poses several questions concerning the nature of the American legal system.
The first, and most obvious, of these questions is: Does the government have a presumptive right to know everything that you know? Matt Duran is not suspected of any illegal action, but of holding knowledge that the government wants. Is there no right to secrecy, no right to silence?
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