DeSmogBlog

By Laurel Whitney

According to a press release sent from Tim DeChristopher’s organization, Peaceful Uprising, Tim was recently moved from the minimum security camp at Federal Correctional Institute Herlong in California to Herlong’s “special housing unit” which, in the parlance of our times, equals “the hole.”

Sources report that DeChristopher was moved there at least two weeks ago because of an investigation brought on by an unknown U.S. Congressman.

DeChristopher was sentenced to two years incarceration last July, with 3 years probation, after being convicted of two federal felonies for fraudulently disrupting a BLM oil and gas lease auction. DeChristopher was disturbed by the sale of federal lands for fossil fuel energy development and chose an impromptu act of civil disobedience to call attention to the illegitimacy of the sale.

Since the sentencing, DeChistopher has enjoyed limited outside contact from prison. However, one email Tim originally sent to a friend seemingly went rogue. According to the press release, DeChristopher’s email to his friend on the outside expressing potential concern about a contributor to his nonprofit group was possibly the trigger for the odd increased scrutiny and punishment.

“Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own.”

How or why the email ended up in Washington, D.C., no one knows at this point. Questions abound, actually. Why did this one email compel an unidentified member of the U.S. Congress to make a phone call to get DeChristopher moved to a more restrictive cell. Who? What? How? Why?

Slated to be released in spring of 2013, DeChristopher could find himself serving the remainder of his time in isolated confinement until the investigation is concluded.

The situation smells of a power play attempting to stifle DeChristopher’s connection to the outside world with a convenient reason to keep him inaccessible and secluded.

In special housing, DeChristopher is rarely let out of his cell (four times over the last 2 weeks for brief periods), has had his ability to write restricted by ink rationing, and can only utilize 15 minutes of phone calls per month.

Remember, all he did was to muck up an oil and gas lease sale later deemed illegal by the U.S. government and invalidated for the most part. Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

For more information from DeSmogBlog, click here.

The press release issued by Peaceful Uprising follows:

On the evening of Friday, March 9, Tim DeChristopher was summarily removed from the minimum security camp where he has been held since September 2011, and moved into the FCI Herlong’s Special Housing Unit (SHU). Tim was informed by Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington, D.C., complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own. According to prison officials, Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation. There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU—often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.

In the SHU, Tim’s movement and communications are severely restricted. In the past two weeks, he has been allowed out of his 8 X 10 cell (which he shares with one other inmate) four times, each time for less than an hour. The SHU could have been designed by Franz Kafka. Tim is allowed one book in his cell, and four in his property locker. His writing means are restricted to a thin ink cartridge which makes correspondence extremely difficult.  He can still receive mail from the outside, but has no other form of communication other than 15 minutes of phone calls per month.

Peaceful Uprising found Tim’s conviction and sentence to two years of prison time outrageous enough, and people all over the U.S. demonstrated their dismay at this injustice through widespread solidarity actions.  But now, Tim is being effectively thrown in the hole for no good reason we can see, other than to further restrict his communication. We are witnessing, once again, the hidden power of public and appointed officials in Washington, D.C. to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on Tim because of his courageous stand in confronting injustice and speaking truth to power.

We firmly believe the only way Tim will be returned to the minimum security camp he’s been housed in for the last six months is to place outside pressure on elected and appointed officials in Washington, D.C., specifically the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and members of Congress charged with overseeing the BOP. Peaceful Uprising wishes to express their solidarity with Tim by making this national call to action, asking Tim’s supporters to call officials at the Federal Correctional Institution in Herlong, Calif., the Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., and members of Congress that sit on the subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security demanding that they immediately return Tim to the minimum security camp from which he came.

And get this:

It has come to our attention that William Koch entered into an antitrust settlement where his company, Gunnison Energy, and SG Interest, a Texas energy company, conspired to orchestrate the bidding at a BLM oil and gas lease auction in Colorado. They memorialized this conspiracy in a memorandum of understanding that was subsequently revealed by a whistleblower. The Department of Justice settled the matter by having each company pay a $275,000 fine, and allowed the conspirators to retain their successful BLM oil and gas leases, without any personal consequences. Tim was charged with conspiring to defeat the Act that created the auction, (a felony) and for making false statements to the government (also a felony). These oil and gas companies actually conspired to defeat an identical BLM auction, and made false statements to the government (according to the Department of Justice). No Oil and Gas executive was charged with felonies and thrown in jail. They were given a token slap on the wrist and went back to drilling. Tim, a peaceful protester, who simply embarrassed the BLM by catching them making big mistakes, is now in a tiny cell because someone from Congress wants to keep him even quieter?

This is not justice, it is political persecution.

Join us in stopping it. Take Action:

“Tim DeChristopher inmate #16156-081 be immediately removed from the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and placed back in the Minimum Security Camp at FCI Herlong.”

FCI Herlong
530-827-8000
Richard B. Ives, WARDEN
Eloisa DeBruler, Public Information Officer
 
Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Central Office
202-307-3198
Charles E. Samuels, Jr.
Director
 
United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
PRIORITY CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS TO CALL:

Jim Sensenbrenner, WI, Chairman of Subcommittee
(202) 225-5101
Louie Gohmert, TX, Vice Chairman of Subcommittee
(202) 225-3035
Jason Chaffetz, UT
DC: (202) 225-7751
 
A press conference with Tim’s Legal Defense Team will be held on Thursday, March 29, at 1:30 p.m. in front of the  Salt Lake City Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse, 350 South Main St.

For more information, click here.