FBI Releases Nelson Mandela Documents in Response to MIT Student’s FOIA Lawsuit: 3 Takeaways From the Redacted Documents

[CAMBRIDGE , MA]   As revealed in an exclusive report by Jason Leopold for Al Jazeera America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro has received the first batch of documents from the FBI as part of Shapiro’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records on Nelson Mandela. The released records largely deal with Mandela’s historic 1990 visit to the U.S. shortly after his release from 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities. Though what’s missing from these documents is often as illuminative as what’s disclosed, there’s still a lot here.

Nelson Mandela 1990 visit

Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. His pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is also suing the NSA, CIA, and DIA over those agencies’ failure to comply with his FOIA requests for records on Mandela. Shapiro is represented by FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Three key takeaways from the FBI’s release of documents to Shapiro:

Cecily McMillan Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail & 5 years Probation: Official Statement from Cecily’s Support Committee

[NEW YORK, NY]  After years of awaiting trial Cecily McMillan was sentenced this morning to a term of incarceration of 90 days on New York’s Rikers Island and a probationary term of 5 years for allegations that she assaulted NYPD officer Grantley Bovel. Posted below is the official statement of her support team.

Cecily McMillan

Today, Cecily Mcmillan was sentenced to 90 days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a police officer at a protest, and then responding to that violence by defending herself. We all know that Cecily did not receive a fair trial and this case will be fought in the Court of Appeals.

Still Falling: The Fight to Preserve Tasmania’s World Heritage Forests

[AUSTRALIA]  Miranda Gibson has devoted years of her life to defending Tasmania’s old growth forests.  Holding Australia’s record for longest tree sit, Miranda is no stranger to the long haul of tenacious grassroots campaigns for eco-defence.

Miranda’s Observer Tree sit lasted 449 days and her six and a half years working on the Florentine Forest blockade has awarded World Heritage Protection status for the otherwise doomed Florentine eucalyptus stand.

Miranda is apprehensive of the word “victory” as she sees her struggle as an ever-poised and vigilant stance against creeping, rapacious development.

Despite Miranda’s laundry list of victories for the forests of Tasmania, the Australian government is attempting to delist several forests from World Heritage Protection status, Tasmanian trees are Still Falling, and these forests need your help.

Take action and join Miranda’s fight: globalvoicesforworldheritage.org

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova & Masha Alyokhina Visit Rikers Island in Support of Cecily McMillan: Join Jurors, Elected Officials in Calling for Immediate Release

[NEW YORK, NY]  At 11:00am EST Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina of Pussy Riot / Zona Prava visited New York’s Rikers Island to meet with jailed Occupy protestor Cecily McMillan. Cecily, who was groped and beaten by the NYPD on March 17, 2012, was convicted of assaulting a police officer on May 5, 2014, and was immediately remanded to the New York Department of Corrections until her sentencing hearing on May 19, 2014. The purpose of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina’s visit was to show solidarity with Cecily and to learn more about the injustices she experienced.

nadya + mashaNadya & Masha | photo by Glen E. Friedman

Since their incarceration in Russian prisons for their own political protests Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina have been outspoken in showing solidarity to political prisoners around the world. Since her imprisonment, Cecily McMillan has seen a groundswell of thousands of supporters calling for her release via a Change.org petition. Cecily’s supporters have also included several unexpected shows of solidarity. On Thursday May 8, 2014, nine of the twelve jurors that convicted McMillan signed letters to Judge Zweibel requesting he show Cecily leniency at sentencing. New York City elected officials are also expected to hold a press conference at City Hall on Monday May 12, 2014 at 12pm wherein they too will be asking for leniency for Cecily.

The following is a statement from Cecily McMillan’s support committee regarding this morning’s visit »

Cecily McMillan Found Guilty, Immediately Remanded Into Custody: Support Group Issues Statement to the Press

[NEW YORK, NY]  At 2pm EST Occupy Wall Street Activist Cecily McMillan was convicted and immediately remanded into custody by Judge Zweibel of the New York Superior Court, a sentencing hearing is tentatively scheduled for May 19, 2014. The following is the official statement from Cecily McMillan’s support committee »

cecily+marty

Beyond Judge Zweibel, it is disgusting to see vast resources from taxpayers wasted for over two years to prosecute Cecily. Manhattan DA Cy Vance has refused to drop this case, pursuing maximum charges against Cecily while ignoring police violence and misconduct. This is unfortunately not isolated to Cecily’s case but is indicative of a system concerned not with justice but with the unrelenting harassment of dissenters and the powerless.”We are devastated by the Jury’s verdict today. It has been clear from day one that Cecily has not received a fair and open trial. The job of a judge during a jury trial isn’t to guide the verdict to fit his opinion. Judge Zweibel, who consistently suppressed evidence, has demonstrated his clear bias by consistently siding with the prosecution. In addition to suppressing evidence, he imposed a gag order on Cecily’s lawyers, which is a clear violation of their 1st Amendment Rights, and placed the burden of proof on the defense, not the prosecution. He is rightly known as ‘a prosecutor in robes’.