Being Subpeonaed by FBI for traveling to Israel and Palestine
Sarah Smith statement at December 6 press conference:
Friday morning, December 3, I received a phone call from an FBI agent. He asked if I had about 30 minutes to sit down and speak with him so he could ask me some questions. I asked about what and he said he “was not at liberty to discuss it.” I then asked if I needed a lawyer present and he said it was up to me but that I was not in any trouble and that they just had a few questions. I felt something suspicious about him telling me he wanted to ask me some questions, but he would not tell me what these questions were. So I said that I had to consult a lawyer and check my schedule and that I would get back to him. I reiterated that it would be easier for me to meet him if I knew why an FBI agent wanted to sit down with me. He then said that it had to deal with the trip I took this summer. He then emphasized, “I think you know which one I’m talking about.”
The trip I took last summer was to Israel and Palestine. I am Jewish and wanted to see first hand what life is like for Israelis and Palestinians. If I went on the standard tour to Israel, I would not be shown how Palestinians live. So I went on a tour that showed me both worlds, Israel, and the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank.
I went with 2 Palestinian-American friends. You would think Jews and Palestinians going together to visit Israel and Palestine is something the U.S. government would encourage. Instead, we are now being ordered by the FBI to go before a Grand Jury for going on that trip.
The US government says it supports peace between Israel and Palestine. It says it supports separate Israeli and Palestinian states. So why does the FBI investigate us because we went to see the Palestinian land? Top US government leaders meet with Palestinian leaders, so why does the FBI investigate us because we talked to average Palestinians on the street? I went there so I could make up my own mind and talk about what I saw. It seems to me our government wants to hide what Israel is doing to Palestinians.
I would like to thank the Committee Against Political Repression for standing up for me and my friends. You can learn about case at stopFBI.net, and please make a donation there. Or you can make a donation for our legal expenses: to NLG Foundation, memo line: FBI raids and mail it to Sarah Smith, 2961 S. Bonaparte, Chicago, IL 60608
Stan Smith statement:
I am very angry that the US government thinks it is legal to have the FBI investigate my daughter simply for going to Israel and Palestine.
As Sarah’s father, I do not need to speak in defense of her character. Crain’s Chicago Business can do that. In their “100 Most Influential Women in Chicago” issue in 2004, they chose my daughter as one of Chicago’s 6 most influential and up and coming women high school students. Crain’s Chicago Business chose her partly because they saw she was willing to travel to different places in the world to see for herself, and to make up her own mind. Evidently the FBI finds something criminal in that.
I think Patrick Fitzgerald, the US District Attorney, Robert Parker of the FBI need to see my daughter and her friends and apologize to them. And I think President Obama, who was elected in 2008 because he said he would stop this sort of thing, should make a point on his next trip to Chicago to personally apologize to my daughter and her friends for how his government is intimidating them.
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