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WE WON! BANK RELEASES ABUDAYYEH’S MONEY

Thank you to all who called U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and/or the US Treasury to demand the government unfreeze bank accounts belonging to Chicago activist Hatem Abudayyeh and his wife.

We just received word the bank admitted to closing the accounts and issued him a check for his funds, telling him they no longer want to provide services to him and his family.

While this is egregious and should not be tolerated at all – at least Hatem has his funds and he can breathe easier knowing the U.S. government did not freeze his accounts.

Below is the article sent out by the Stop FBI Committee.

Again THANK YOU TO ALL WHO CALLED!!!

Palestinian Community Leader Hatem Abudayyeh and Supporters Claim Victory
Bank Returns Money, Government Involvement Alleged

On Friday, May 6th, the bank accounts of Hatem and Naima Abudayyeh of Chicago were frozen.  The bank manager at the TCF (Twin Cities Federal) branch could not explain what had happened but stated that the Bank Security Act prevented him from releasing any assets.

In a strange turn of events, the bank admitted announced today that they shut down the accounts, stating they no longer want to provide banking services to the Abudayyeh family.  Simultaneously, TCF management informed the Abudayyehs today that they were issuing them a check for the value of their accounts.

Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 anti-war, Palestinian and international solidarity activists who have been subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago. Many supporters of the Abudayyehs and the 23 activists suspected that the FBI and grand jury investigation against these activists was the cause of the seizure of the couple’s accounts.

Michael Deutsch, attorney for the family, said, “In my opinion, the bank did not act out of the blue. I suspect that the FBI and U.S Attorney investigation caused the bank to overreact and illegally freeze the Abudayyehs’ banking accounts that had been there for over a decade.”

In response to the seizing of the couple’s accounts, people across the country called the offices of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago, and those of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) demanding the return of their money and an end to the repression.

A Code Pink activist from Washington, D.C., called Fitzgerald’s office and was told, “We’ve received 100s of calls.” The OFAC office was bombarded as well, and journalists from a National Public Radio affiliate, Al Jazeera and other agencies contacted them for an explanation.

TCF is well known for having links to the right wing think tank the Center for the American Experiment.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression and the Coalition to Protect People’s Rights see the return of the money to the Abudayyeh family and the admission by the bank of their action as a victory for their efforts and an affirmation of the constitutional right of Americans not to be deprived of property without due process of law.  However, they are concerned that the actions of TCF management may violate state and federal public accommodations laws by denying the Abudayyehs banking services on a discriminatory basis.

Hatem Abudayyeh expressed his thanks to the many people who called in over the past two days. “Thank you all for your work. The pressure put on the US Attorney and OFAC no doubt caused them to contact TCF, who subsequently broke their silence and ended this frightening incident.”

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TODAY: Demand U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family

Take action Monday: Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300. Then dial 0 (zero) for the operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk. Demand Fitzgerald unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family and stop repression against Palestinian, anti-war and international solidarity activists.

On Friday, May 6, the U.S. government froze the bank accounts of Hatem Abudayyeh and his wife, Naima.
This unwarranted attack on a leading member of the Palestinian community in Chicago is the latest escalation of the repression of anti-war and Palestinian community organizers by the FBI, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 activists from Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago, and his home was raided by the FBI in September of last year. Neither Hatem Abudayyeh nor Naima Abudayyeh have been charged with any crime.

One of the bank accounts frozen was exclusively in Naima Abudayyeh’s name. Leaders of the national Committee to Stop FBI Repression, as well as Chicago’s Coalition to Protect People’s Rights, are appalled at the government’s attempt to restrict the family’s access to its finances, especially so soon before Mothers’ Day. Not only does the government’s action seriously disrupt the lives of the Abudayyehs and their five-year-old daughter, but it represents an attack on Chicago’s Arab community and activist community and the fundamental rights of Americans to freedom of speech.

The persecution of the Abudayyeh family is another example of the criminalization of Palestinians, their supporters, and their movement for justice and liberation. There has been widespread criticism of the FBI and local law enforcement for their racial profiling and scapegoating of Arab and Muslim Americans. These repressive tactics include infiltration of community centers and mosques, entrapment of young men, and the prominent case of 11 students from the University of California campuses at Irvine and Riverside who have been subpoenaed to a grand jury and persecuted for disrupting a speech by Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the US. The government’s attempt to conflate the anti-war and human rights movements with terrorism is a cynical attempt to capitalize on the current political climate in order to silence Palestinians and other people of conscience who exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner which does not conform to the administration’s foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.

The issuance of subpoenas against the 23 activists has been met with widespread opposition and criticism across the country. Six members of the U.S. Congress, including five in the past month, have sent letters to either Holder or President Obama, expressing grave concern for the violations of the civil liberties and rights of the 23 activists whose freedom is on the line. Three additional U.S. representatives have also promised letters, as thousands of constituents and other people of conscience across the U.S. have demanded an end to this assault on legitimate political activism and dissent. Over 60 Minnesota state legislators also issued a resolution condemning the subpoenas.

The Midwest activists have been expecting indictments for some time. The freezing of the Abudayyeh family’s bank accounts suggests that the danger of indictments is imminent.

Take action Monday: Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300. Then dial 0 (zero) for the operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk. Demand Fitzgerald unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family and stop repression against Palestinian, anti-war and international solidarity activists.

In Solidarity,

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression and
The Coalition to Protect People’

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