Tortured for Testimony: Anarchists Get Solitary Confinement for Not Snitching

“You have to be strong. The only thing you do all day is just not break,” says Katherine “KteeO” Olejnik, on her two month detention in solitary confinement.

In September 2012, KteeO and her colleague, Matthew Duran, were imprisoned and sent to solitary confinement at Seattle Federal Detention Center for refusing to testify in front of a grand jury. They weren’t being tried for any crime, but refused to testify because of their political ideals.

“From the get-go, I never had any intention of being used as an instrument by the federal government,” says Duran.

“If I would have testified and something that I had said would have put someone in prison and taken them away from their family, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself,” adds Olejnik.

What heinous crime could justify the use of solitary confinement to get KteeO and Matt to cooperate?

In this case, it was a few acts of vandalism during a May Day protest last year.

“It was a largely peaceful protest but there was a small contingent who were dressed in black and they were covering their faces, and they caused damage to the federal courthouse and also to some nearby businesses,” says Olejnik's attorney Jenn Kaplan.  

The suspects are alleged to be a group of anarchists, as are KteeO and Matt. Matt and KteeO believe they were brought in to testify based solely on their shared political beliefs with the suspects, and that the FBI is on a witch hunt to track down political dissenters.

Because grand juries are extremely secretive and there is very little transparency, the court would not release any information on the proceedings or the prosecution.

“If you’re not willing to cooperate with a grand jury’s investigation, no matter how illegitimate it seems, you can go to jail for a very long time,” says Kaplan, “and not just to jail, but it seems that the Bureau of Prisons can put you in solitary confinement for extended periods without having to justify its decision to anyone. And this could happen to any US citizen."

Were Matt and KateeO tortured for their testimony? They sure think so.

“Just the idea of locking someone up for days, weeks, months—and never letting them out—anybody that thinks would know that this is a form of torture,” says Duran.

Margaret Chen, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, notes that you can see the physiological and psychological effects of solitary confinement in as little as seven days, and they may include sleep deprivation, withdrawal, depression, anxiety, uncontrolled rage, suicidal thoughts and self-mutilation.

Using solitary confinement for convicted felons is controversial enough, but in this case the imprisonment was a form of coercion. The judge only released Matt and KteeO after concluding that they would not break their resolve under the harshest of circumstances.

About 7 minutes.

Written and produced by Tracy Oppenheimer; camera by Zach Weissmueller.

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  • ||

    I heard about these two while they were still in jail. Awful. Glad to see they are out but their future is hardly secure.

  • celena89re||

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  • John Galt||

    So you're selling goo (on you) jobs now. Sexy!

  • ||

    Those "self-described anarchists" (3:18) were protesting on May Day? And, as the video shows at various times, there were plenty of people with black masks and red in their flags?

    Ok, I get it. Matt and KteeO are communists, and their alleged anarchism is a smokescreen for an agenda that includes revolutionary socialism. They want to sweep away the existing government and to set up something far worse. So Tracy Oppenheimer and Reason have carried water for two radically evil people who didn't even have to pay the fully loaded cost of their room and board.

    Now, I think that a good argument could be made that those two communists have nullified any right to private property that they might once have had, for they contradict the ability of others to earn the right to private property, must less to enjoy earned property. If they have no right to private property, then they do not own their own bodies, in which case they have no right to move their bodies as they please. In fact, it's difficult to see how any injustice would be done by killing them, which could be like uprooting a weed and throwing it into a furnace to make sure that the DNA in any seeds is destroyed.

  • ||

    Still, even though those two communistic criminals are on the loose and cultivating despotism, there's a glimmer of light in this story. KteeO claims that she's prone to depression and inability to concentrate. So she's prone to despair and may be suicidal, even if at present only intermittently.
    A few gentle nudges might be all that's needed to bring about justice at low cost.

  • $park¥||

    "If you're not willing to cooperate with a grand jury's investigation, no matter how illegitimate it seems, you can go to jail for a very long time," says Kaplan, "and not just to jail, but it seems that the Bureau of Prisons can put you in solitary confinement for extended periods without having to justify its decision to anyone. And this could happen to any US citizen."

    Using solitary confinement for convicted felons is controversial enough, but in this case the imprisonment was a form of coercion. The judge only released Matt and KteeO after concluding that they would not break their resolve under the harshest of circumstances.

    I feel safer already.

    Thanks government for keeping me safe from being infected by the mind worms being spread by these vicious anarchist thugs.

  • ||

    I can't watch the video at work but read the article. Can anyone tell me if they'll be filing a suit against the government, or since they are anarchists who may choose to eschew the process entirely, is anyone filing suit on their behalf?

    Thanks.

  • sarcasmic||

    Doesn't say either way about them filing a suit, but the implication is that it wouldn't matter since everything that happened to them was totally legal according to case law.

  • ||

    This, and there's still the possibility they'll be held in criminal contempt of court, so their legal issues may go on in a different way.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sure that the judge and prosecutor would have been just as zealous had it been private property that was vandalized instead of a federal building.

  • Ted S.||

    Or if it were the police being destructive and keeping the blue wall of silence.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "...they caused damage to the federal courthouse and also to some nearby businesses”

    Er, private property was damaged.

  • Bruce Hall||

    Odd... where is the ACLU on this?

  • $park¥||

    Anarchist is not a government defined victim group. These folks are SOL.

  • Paul.||

    The government doesn't recognize anarchy.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Litigating for them. They interviewed an ACLU lawyer in the vid.

  • ||

    Rule of law.

    There is no right not to testify - as a witness, duly subpoena'd.

    Quite the opposite - there is a duty TO testify. I've gotten material witness a couple of times due to witnesses who refused to cooperate. They work. Our rule of law depends on people being held accountable, and that means among other things, that refusing to obey lawful subpoenas does and should result in punishment.

    That is not to say that the MEANS of punishment (solitary confinement) was just, but the fact that they were held against their will for refusing to testify is a GOOD thing.

    Anarchists don't get to "opt out" and ignore subpoenas and rule of law. If they want to espouse their dumb philosophy (few being stupider than anarchism), more power to them. But if and when they are subpoena'd, their philosophy takes a backseat to rule of law.

  • ||

    correction: I've gotten material witness WARRANTS a couple of times...

    again, the WAY they were incarcerated may have been (probably was) excessive and violative, but there is zero doubt a judge can incarcerate somebody for contempt if they refuse to comply with a subpoena. Libertarianism, as opposed to anarchy is consistent with support for rule of law, which means - you get subpoena'd, you comply with the subpoena

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Couldn't these uncooperative material witnesses just claim the 5th on the grounds that there political beliefs would compel them to lie under oath?

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    "their" not "there".

  • Whahappan?||

    Legally yes. Practically, no.

  • Sigivald||

    Doubtful.

    I can't see a Judge taking that seriously.

    Because, for one thing, that precedent simply throws out subpoena powers entirely - suddenly everyone who'd rather not be a witness has "political beliefs that would compel them to lie"...

    Too "convenient" - note that even Shakers and the like who legitimately "cannot" swear an oath don't get out of "affirming" and having to testify.

  • MacKlingon||

    If they want to espouse their dumb philosophy (few being stupider than anarchism), more power to them. But if and when they are subpoena'd, their philosophy takes a backseat to rule of law.

    The law being perfect, unchangeable, carved in stone and, handed down from God.

    Amen

  • Sigivald||

    Sarcasm is not an argument.

    "This law is bad because ___" is an argument.

    "The rule of law", by the way, is not the same as worship of specific laws as perfect - just that there are rules, and they apply to everyone.

    If you want to throw out centuries of Common Law and the subpoena power, you'll have to better than cheap snark.

  • Zuul mothafucka Zuul||

    Does anyone smell bacon?

  • ||

    Proud as fuck to be bacon, Zuul! Proud as fuck!

  • Lord Humungus||

    yay.

  • $park¥||

    Anarchists don't get to "opt out" and ignore subpoenas and rule of law.

    Apparently they do, because they did. And they're sticking to it no matter what they get subjected to.

    If they want to espouse their dumb philosophy (few being stupider than anarchism), more power to them.

    I'd hate to think what special brand of government stupidity gets your seal of approval.

  • ||

    Libertarianism gets my seal of approval. Anarchism is just stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    Anarchism fails to take into account that some people in society will get together and form gangs with the last word in violence, and use that power as a license to lie, cheat, and steal.

  • $park¥||

    That's an interesting, though false, statement. Anyway, I'm not hopping on the happy libertarian bandwagon, it's fully of stuffy assholes who will shoot you as soon as look at you.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    What do you mean it's false? That's exactly what happened here. A bunch of anarchists formed into a gang that smashed up a bunch of shops and are now colluding to make sure no one is punished for the violence.

  • $park¥||

    Anarchism fails to take into account that some people in society will get together and form gangs with the last word in violence

    Anarchism does no such thing, it's a great fallacy to say that it does and one that most people just agree with outright.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    It's not so much that anarchy does such a thing; more so that humans naturally do such a thing and anarchy does nothing to stop them.

  • Sigivald||

    Which "anarchism" do you mean, exactly?

    The anarchism of these guys seemed to involve more or less just that (and a bunch of ... red flags. What does a red flag signify, by the way? Hmm?).

    Now, there's Rothbard's voluntarist anarchism, which might be what you refer to; it does sort of attempt to take that into account (though the story of preventing it ... is not very compelling; also see Nozick on the likely inevitability of at least a minimal state).

    The problem is that I've never actually seen someone involved in the flag-waving, mask-marching "Anarchist Movement" who was anything like a Rothbardian voluntarist - if they exist at all they're bad at expressing it over the hordes of smash-the-Staters and Reds-in-Black-clothes types.)

    In other words, in normal use even by self-proclaimed anarchists, "anachism" is very bad at explaining how you prevent warlords*.

    (* As Jello Biafra, a notable idiot, put it: "Anarchy sounds good to me, 'till someone asks who'll fix the sewers - and will the rednecks just play 'King of the Neighborhood'?"

    He has not been satisfactorily answered that I've ever seen, apart from handwaving of "if we had anarchy nobody would WANT the latter, and the former would be arranged by [more handwaving that isn't "by paying for it on the market", which is an answer that would work]".)

  • ||

    Yes. Anarchism is exactly like Marxism in that only one who is either wholly ignorant of human nature and the reality of how the world ACTUALLY works or who chooses to ignore same, can actually believe in it as a valid political theory.

    Anarchists are just like clueless Marxists, constantly trying to fit square pegs into a round hole, and perfectly happy to live in their ivory towers where they don't have to consider human nature.

  • $park¥||

    Aren't you a good little collectivist. I suppose you'll fit right in with the libertarians.

  • ||

    I'm a person who understands human nature. Anarchy is no more workable than Marxism.

  • $park¥||

    Anarchy is no more workable than Marxism Libertarianism.

    FTFY

    I'm fine with my impossible dream being better than yours.

  • Mr Whipple||

    You may, or may not understand human nature (doubtful). But one thing you don't seem to understand is anarchy since there would still be courts and police and insurance companies and an army.

    Granted, most of it is very theoretical, but machines that could fly through the air were once considered "unworkable". Not to mention all of the doubts about our own Constitutional Democracy at the time it was established.

  • Sigivald||

    An army? Lots of armies.

    Problem is, how do you stop people from stopping being Anarchists?

    In other words, if you have people who want a Rothbardian voluntarist situation ("anarchy" in the non-front-for-Marxism sense), it's easy enough to maintain one, at least for a while (an awkward situation comes up if their kids decide Statism is better, but there's a decent chance they won't).

    But revealed preference suggests that, to use the bluntest terms, lots of people prefer having a Master.

    How do you stop them from imposing one on you, too?

    They outnumber you. And they're willing to use coercion to get their way.

    (This is why I suggest Nozick's minarchy vs. Rothbard; it's both stabler-seeming and a much more plausible incrementalist goal.)

  • EdwinNJ||

    The flaw with anarchism is much more subtle than that. What it refuses to understand is you will never have 100% of people agreeing on what are legitimate property and civil rights. If you have the right to use force to defend your rights, and most people believe they do, then you'll have huge feuds every once in a while when people disagree on an issue of rights or a ruling of previous events.

    I mean, if you think about it, no matter how hard you try to stick to non-violence, eventually, if you have a dispute over some piece of property, eventually you'll have two people literally grabbing the same thing trying to use it at the same time. Think the glass bottle from "The Gods Must Be Crazy". How will not that lead to a fight?

  • Mr Whipple||

    I know if I have a contract dispute, or a property dispute with someone, the first thing I think of is killing them.

    Um, sorry. I meant take them to court and let a neutral third party arbitrate the dispute.

  • Mr Whipple||

    You mean like a government?

  • dinkster||

    Oh Lord. Anarchism quickly and efficiently develops into a sustainable society, basically a minarchist state. If everyone in said society was a former anarchist, or sympathetic to an anarchist philosophy, no one is going to be willing to stop others from leaving or joining that society. It is a step in a process, it isn't "stupid"

  • Ted S.||

    So they should just take the Fifth Amendment at every single question. Including when they're asked their names.

  • Fluffy||

    You can't do that if you aren't the target of the grand jury.

    They can transactionally immunize you and the 5th Amendment no longer applies.

  • ||

    And as soon as they are offered immunity, and STILL take the 5th, they are in contempt.

    Again, there is no right NOT to testify. Subpoena's carry rule of law on their shoulders. One absolutely has the right to plead the 5th, and as soon as the prosecution addresses that with immunity, you LOSE the right to pretend you are standing behind the 5th.

    The 5th protects DEFENDANTS from incriminating themselves. It does not protect witnesses from incriminating (or helping to prove not guilty - iow exonerating) defendants.

    There are a few privileges against being a witness - like spousal privilege, or priest-penitent.

    But clueless anarchist doesn't get you a pass

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    So you tell the judge, thank you for the immunity and then lie with impunity.

  • grey||

    Can you just claim you're a liberal and say BUSH? It answers everything and would have for these two as well. It's proven to work.

  • Sigivald||

    Immunity for the content of the testimony is not immunity to perjury charges.

  • Whahappan?||

    And of course, everyone knows you can trust the court to honor immunity. I would tell the court I don't trust them and still claim the 5th. Of course, courts are worthy of as much contempt as it is humanly possible to convey.

  • Chris Mallory||

    Any honest man has nothing but contempt for government employees and the justice system.

  • Fluffy||

    If I am ever subpoena'd in a matter where there are any real stakes, I will respond to the subpoena but immediately claim I can't take the oath because I can't meet the burden of providing truthful testimony.

    Not as a matter of intent, but because the modern state has repeatedly shown its willingness to prosecute people whose testimony contains errors of fact, or whose testimony even just contains emphasis that doesn't fit the state's spin on the facts.

    I'd probably back off before getting a contempt citation, but I can see in my head a way to continue to answer every question with a more and more refined and parsed version of "I'm not confident enough in my recollection of the facts to be able to testify under the terms of the oath." For anything more complicated than my name and date of birth. Hell, maybe not even my date of birth - I forget whether my wife was born on the 24th or 26th all the time, so that demonstrates conclusively that I can't trust myself to remember birthdays.

  • ||

    So if you had witnessed stuff that would be exculpatory (iow that would help an innocent defendant be found not guilty) you would play these silly games and let him be more likely to be convicted, rather than testify truthfully as to what you witnessed?

    Seriously?

  • buybuydandavis||

    Nothing is esculpatory. Everything you say is another rope to hang you with.

    Never talk to cops or the "justice" system if you can avoid it.

  • Paul.||

    I forget whether my wife was born on the 24th or 26th all the time, so that demonstrates conclusively that I can't trust myself to remember birthdays.

    Your wife remembers for you.

  • Whahappan?||

    Bullshit. We don't have rule of law in the vile cesspool of evil and corruption which is our legal system. What the judge did to these people is pure evil, "legal" or no. It's not a good thing for people to be put in a cage for refusing to cooperate with the filth in law enforcement.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Exactly!!! What is the rule of law got to do anything? The Third Reich had laws.

    How does your rule of law worship work out when Nazis write the laws.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    that refusing to obey lawful subpoenas does and should result in punishment.

    I didn't see anything, I didn't hear anything, and if I was there, I was asleep.

    Satisfied, occifer?

  • Chris Mallory||

    "I have no recollection of those events"
    "I do not recall that conversation"

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Nice work! you found the loop hole in the 6th amendment. I've never noticed it before:

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, unless they have been accused of failure to testify, in which case, you can totally just put them in jail at the whim of a judge

  • Sigivald||

    These guys aren't being criminally prosecuted - they're refusing to obey a subpoena.

    So, er... how does the Sixth Amendment apply?

    Does it occur to you that the Founders supported the subpoena power? Because on all evidence they did; if they'd intended to remove it, they could have easily done so.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    The right to speak includes the right to not speak.

  • Chris Mallory||

    My morals trump your law. FOAD slaver.

  • deified||

    I liked the part where KTeeO (?!?) said that this reminded her about learning about McCarthyism in the 5th grade, before she had even heard about Communism.

    First of all, this is a great summation of that special mixture of incompetence and politicization that happened in the public schools.

    Second, what happened to Matt and KTeeO is actually quite a bit worse than anything that happened to people before HUAAC.

  • ||

    I support rule of law.

    If subpoena'd - testify (which I have done scores, if not hundreds of times).

    If called to jury and serve on a jury, I reserve the right to nullify.

    The requirement of a witness to testify if subpoena'd is essential to rule of law, just like the right of a juror to nullify.

  • sarcasmic||

    Uh, isn't jury nullification the opposite of rule of law?

    I thought rule of law meant that the law is always right. Period. If you don't like it, change it. It's not up to the jury to judge the law.

  • $park¥||

    You dare question Dunphy about the law?

  • ||

    No, Jury Nullification is part of rule of law.

    Rule of law does NOT mean the law is always right. The ULTIMATE decider is the jury.

    Sorry, but major fail. Jury nullification is a critical part of our system.

  • $park¥||

    I think it's cute that you responded to me with this diatribe. Especially the "major fail" bit.

  • ||

    I was actually responding to Sarcasmic.

    I can't honestly believe he doesn't understand rule of law, such that he thinks it means the law is always right.

    Again, I prefer to be consistent.

    Rule of law includes both the duty to testify (as a witness) and the right of nullification. Many statists deny the latter. Some anarchist nimrods (redundant, but still) deny the former. Those of us who believe in rule of law believe in both. They may sometimes have bad results, but it's a matter of process.

  • $park¥||

    Many statists deny the latter.

    Wait a second, are you trying to say you're NOT a statist?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • ||

    Rule of law does not mean the law is always right. Far from it. Do you even know what rule of law means?

    In brief, it means that individuals are beholden to follow set rules (encoded into law and constitutions), not arbitary rule of man and that when conflict exists, law trumps man.

  • sarcasmic||

    I support jury nullification mainly because I believe that any law which criminalizes actions that do not affect the life, liberty or property of others is an unjust law.

    That pretty much describes most of the laws out there. So I don't have much respect for the law.

    Might as well quote Bastiat.

    "When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law."

  • ||

    And it's a fundamental part of rule of law. Even a brief study of same would show that. Some of the posters at volokh.com have covered this subject before.

    So would DUI on a bicycle be a "just" law under your metric? :)

  • ||

    If he's not riding among pedestrians, how can he be a hazard to anyone but himself?

  • ||

    Difference is, testifying is part of your job, what you get paid for. The rest of us are dragged into involuntary servitude, without even de minimus coverage of expenses, much less pay for our time.

    If I sound cynical, it's because I just got dragged through a long deposition in a civil case where I have no stake in the outcome- but still had to spend a day and a lot of out-of-pocket expense to comply with the subpoena. And even that came after having to fork out a thou for a lawyer to keep them from dragging me to a remote state to testify. The lawyers did very well at $500 an hour for a wasted day.

    Yes, I found my memory quite vague on most issues I was questioned about...

  • Sevo||

    "If I sound cynical, it's because I just got dragged through a long deposition in a civil case where I have no stake in the outcome- but still had to spend a day and a lot of out-of-pocket expense to comply with the subpoena."

    Seems to me that the judge and the attorneys should pool their income for the length of time the jury is selected and sits, and divide it 15 ways; split between the judge, the two attorneys and the twelve jurors.

  • ||

    Yeah, that'll happen...

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Would you support the "rule of law" in Nazi regime?

  • EdwinNJ||

    false Reductio ad absurdum; it's called balance, shmuck. Yeah, of course the rule of law shouldn't be followed in a complete tyranny, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be followed in a much more reasonable society that largely respects human rights.

  • dinkster||

    much more reasonable society that largely respects human rights

    Great, if you can just point this place out on a map, I'll be heading off.

  • JeremyR||

    Is solitary confinement really torture, though? Honestly, I'd much prefer that, rather than get raped constantly by other prisoners...

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Nitpicking, and not to detract from the heinous shit they had to put up with, but these kids are just more Big Government pseudoAnarchists, and those MayDay protests were ANYTHING but "peaceful".

  • Marcus75||

    just as Nicholas replied I am startled that someone can earn $7023 in one month on the internet. have you read this link http://www.wow92.com

  • joeedick||

    If you think Roy`s story is super..., four weeks ago my aunts girlfriend also brought home $8513 working fourteen hours a week an their house and the're best friend's aunt`s neighbour was doing this for eight months and easily made more than $8513 parttime on their labtop. use the guide here,-- Gig60.ℂOM

  • Dan||

    This story is idiotic. You have no right to refuse to testify about a crime you witnessed. You have a right not to incriminate yourself, but that right does not extend to allow you to protect someone else.

    These morons aren't protecting a source they used for a news story, they're protecting criminals because they share the same ideology as the them. Stop trying to make heroes out of them and making yourselves look like idiots.

  • Chris Mallory||

    "I do not recall those events."
    "I have no recollection of that conversation."

    Prove otherwise.
    I have every right to not cooperate with the government.

    FOAD slaver.

  • Libertymike||

    Dan, upon what basis do you aver that the two commies "have no right to refuse to testify about a crime [they] witnessed"?

    Is that one of the pillars of the Declaration of Independence?

    Is that a raison d'etre of the American revolution?

    Is it a First Principle?

    In a free society, A does not have the right to compel B to testify against C in any proceeding.

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