CHICAGO -- More federal grand jury subpoenas went out this week as part of an apparent investigation into possible links between U.S. anti-war groups and foreign terrorists organizations, according to an attorney for the anti-war activists.
More than 20 activists in the Chicago and Minneapolis areas have now been subpoenaed as part of the federal probe, according to attorney Michael Deutsch, who is coordinating the activists' defense.
In September, subpoenas and search warrants executed on homes in Chicago and Minneapolis stated that the investigation was after evidence of "material support of terrorism" and was seeking records of travel by the activists in the Middle East and South America.
The warrants also sought information about donations or support for groups listed on a State Department list of terrorist organizations, including the Peoples Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
A group of activists gathered at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago on Wednesday to protest the government's actions.
"They're using the grand jury as a witch hunt to investigate political activists," Deutsch said.
Spokesmen for the FBI in Chicago and the U.S. attorney's offices in Chicago and Minneapolis declined comment, stating that grand jury proceedings are confidential.
Special Agent Steve Warfield, a spokesman for the FBI in Minneapolis, said only that an investigation of material support of terrorism is ongoing.
After the initial round of subpoenas in September, at least nine more people in Chicago have been called to testify before the grand jury, Deutsch said. All told, at least 23 people have been called to appear before a special grand jury seated in Chicago, he said.
Activists who received subpoenas in September told authorities they would refuse to appear. So far, none have been cited for contempt or compelled to testify.
Maureen Murphy, a member of the Chicago-based Palestine Solidarity Group and editor of the pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada, said she was served a subpoena Tuesday to appear before the grand jury Jan. 25. Murphy said she would not testify.
The Chicago home of labor activist Joe Iosbaker and his wife Stephanie Weiner was searched by FBI agents in September. Both refused to testify before the grand jury in October.
In the months since, the couple has heard nothing from authorities, though FBI agents have returned his cell phone and a box of personal papers that was among several boxes taken during the September search, Iosbaker said.
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