The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Frida Berrigan,, 347-638-4928
Helen Schietinger,, 202-344-5762
Jeremy Varon,, 732-979-3119

Anti-Torture Activists to Go on Trial for Speaking Out Against Guantanamo, Indefinite Detention, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Press Conference Scheduled for Wednesday, January 4


A jury trial for five anti-torture activists begins on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 in D.C. Superior Court before Judge Fisher. They are charged with unlawful conduct in the citizen's gallery at the House of Representatives on June 23, 2011, and face jail time if convicted.

"Our strategy is to put Guantanamo on trial," says Josie Setzler, a human rights advocate and grandmother from Ohio, "and demand that Congress and the President close Guantanamo and restore the U.S. Constitution." The press conference will discuss the court case and the larger issues of torture, Guantanamo, and the NDAA.

The defendants -- Brian Hynes of the Bronx, NY, Judith Kelly of Washington, DC, Mike Levinson of New Rochelle, NY, Carmen Trotta of New York City, NY, and Josie Setzler of Freemont, Ohio--were among fourteen originally arrested and charged. All are members of Witness Against Torture, which will maintain a solemn presence of "detainees" in orange jumpsuits and blacks hoods outside the courthouse for the duration of the trial.


WHEN: 8:30AM, Wednesday, January 3, 2012

WHERE: Grassy area directly across from the main entrance to Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave, NW (where Indiana intersects 5th Street, NW).

WHAT: Brief statements by the defendants, legal experts and anti-torture activists

WHO: Josie Setzler, defendant in the case

Jeremy Varon, history professor at New School University, NYC

Frida Berrigan, activist with Witness Against Torture from New London, CT

According to court documents, the case is known as "Shakir Ami (aka Bryan Hynes) et al Co-Defendants" -- a garbled reference to Shaker Aamer, a British resident of Pakistani descent who is one of the longest-held men at Guantanamo. Witness Against Torture activists sometimes take the names of detainees when arrested, so as to symbolically give them the day in court denied by the Bush and Obama administrations.

The courthouse is located at 500 Indiana Avenue NW, near the Navy Archives Metro stop. Activists will fill the courtroom each day of the trial and hold vigil outside in the mornings, lunch time and evenings.

The trial kicks off a ten-day "Hungering for Justice" campaign which will include a daily presence at the Moultrie Courthouse, as well as activities throughout the city to call attention to the terrible injustice that is Guantanamo and Bagram and secret prisons throughout the world. It will culminate in a "Ten Years Too Many" mass mobilization on Wednesday, January 11 at Lafayette Park across from the White House organized by a coalition of groups, including Amnesty International and National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. For the first 100 days of the Obama administration, the group held a daily vigil at the White House, encouraging the new President to uphold his commitments to shut down Guantanamo.