Dear friends and activists,
On Thursday 13th November the UK 'Gandalf' trial resulted in 3 journalists each being sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The State had brought charges against the editors of Green Anarchist (GA) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) Supporters Group Newsletter (hence 'GA aND ALF') for 'conspiracy to incite persons unknown to commit criminal damage' - one ALFSGN editor was found 'not guilty' and 2 other defendants are due to be tried at a later date. The 3 convicted defendants had merely been performing a public service in publishing news of some of the wide range of current direct actions (in the UK and in other countries) by environmentalists and animal rights activists. The court had found such reporting to be 'incitement'. An Appeal is being prepared.
"Public Interest Immunity" Certificates were used to suppress evidence of Secret Service actions in the gathering of evidence. The police have been the prime movers behind this case - "Operation Washington", as the lead-up was known, involved 55 police raids and, at its height, employed sixty officers. So far the State has spent four million pounds. It is not for the police or courts to determine the limits of our discussions.
Many publications include coverage of direct action protests. Catch-all incitement and conspiracy charges threaten not only radical publications, but anyone making statements which could be interpreted as 'inflamatory'. This case opens the way for similar attacks on any publication deemed to support such actions. Yet the hypocracy and bias of the law is obvious - the establishment's media daily support and call for various forms of institutionalised violence - wars, police controls, environmental damage, factory farming etc - but none have been prosecuted for 'incitement'.
We refuse to recognise laws which enable the powerful to seek to censor and criminalise the dissemination of alternative points of view. The McLibel case for example, and the ever growing distribution of hundreds of thousands of anti-McDonald's leaflets in response, has demonstrated that repressive laws can be exposed and made unworkable by organised, mass defiance backed by public awareness and support. State attacks on independent publications can also be successfully resisted and defeated.
This crude and futile attempt at intimidation will cause outrage and widespread defiance, including ever greater circulation of the kind of information which the State is trying to suppress. It is important that all progressive organisations and journals report examples of direct actions and protests by the public against companies and governmental bodies. Environmental degradation, animal cruelty, economic injustice and poverty, attacks on personal freedoms, wars, the arms trade, nuclear weapons - these, among many others, are the real inciting factors, not the reporting of direct action protests. The best way to fight for our freedoms is to exercise them.
Solidarity Grows A Pledge in solidarity with the 'Gandalf' trial defendants [see enclosed Report] was agreed on December 17th 1997 at a successful 85-strong London meeting of Gandalf defendants, and delegates and individuals of organisations concerned or affected by the Gandalf trial verdict. The meeting discussed and launched a wide range of practical activities in response to the jailings.
We are looking for as many people as possible to sign and publicise the Pledge below. There are two categories of signing: (1)Publications and organisations and (2) individuals who are in support of the statement. We need your responses as soon as possible. If signing in a personal capacity, please provide the name of the organisation with which you're most involved.
Please copy and circulate this post-trial appeal for support everywhere (including abroad) in order to help strengthen everyone's determination to stand up for basic human freedoms under attack by the British State. 350 organisations and individuals (e.g. Reclaim The Streets, The National Union Of Journalists, Ethical Consumer, Green Party, The Earth First! US Journal, Stockholm Anarchists, New Zealand Soil Association journal, East Berks Animal Aid, Squall, Red Pepper, Peace News etc) had already signed a similar Statement during the trial - in the light of the verdict this new Pledge incorporates the need to resist censorship. This is a campaign that can and must be won.
Please inform us who you've circulated this to. Note: This initiative is separate but complimentary to the "Gandalf Defendants' Campaign". For more details, to affiliate and offer support, contact the G.D.C., P.O. Box 66, Stevenage SG1 2TR Updates on the website: www.cbuzz.co.uk/SchNEWS You can also contact Green Anarchist, BCM 1715, London WC1N 3XX, and the ALFSG Newsletter, BCM 1160, WC1N 3XX.
NEXT MEETING OF THE LGSC - Wed 28th Jan, 7pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Sq, WC1 (Holborn tube).
In solidarity, Dave for the London Gandalf Support Campaign
Please write to the 3 prisoners: Noel Molland (CK4321) & Saxon Wood (CK4322), HMP Guys Marsh, Shaftsbury, Dorset, SP7 OAH. Steve Booth (CK4323), HMP Lancaster, The Castle, Lancaster, LA1 1YL
SOLIDARITY PLEDGE: " We call on all publications to fairly report the Gandalf case and the issues involved.
" We pledge our solidarity with the Gandalf defendants, and call for the 3 jailed editors of Green Anarchist to be freed and for the outstanding legal actions against the 2 remaining defendants to be abandoned.
" We pledge to throw our weight behind the campaign to support the independent and radical press, and to defend the freedom to report news of direct actions and protests.
" We pledge to report news of direct actions and protests whenever and however we see fit, and we will resist any attempts to censor journals or organisations which exercise such freedoms."
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