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2006/ January 2007
on Daniel McGowan By Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan
On December 7th, 2005, Daniel McGowan, a respected and long-time environmental
and social justice activist, was arrested by federal marshals as part of
a nationwide crackdown on activists. [See Satya August 2006.] He was charged
in federal court on many counts of arson and conspiracy, all relating to
two actions claimed by the Earth Liberation Front in Oregon in 2001. Until
recently, Daniel was offered two choices by the government: cooperate by
informing on other people, or go to trial and face a life sentence in federal
prison. His only real option was to plead not guilty until he could reach
a resolution allowing him to honor his principles.
On November 9, 2006, after months of negotiations and consideration, Daniel McGowan
and his codefendants Joyanna Zacher, Nathan Block and Jonathan Paul appeared
in federal court to enter guilty pleas as part of a global resolution agreement
with prosecutors. They accepted responsibility for their roles in a series of
environmentally motivated arsons. They did so with the understanding that they
would not implicate or identify anyone other than themselves. Daniel pled to
conspiracy and to two separate incidents of arson.
The government is recommending Daniel and two of his codefendants be sentenced
to eight years in federal prison and another codefendant five years. Daniel’s
lawyers will seek a sentence of no more than 63 months. Prosecutors say they
will request the court apply a “terrorism enhancement” that would
add substantial time to each defendant’s sentence. The “terrorism
enhancement” could only be applied if the court finds that the defendants’ actions
were motivated by a desire to change the policies of the U.S. government by means
of coercion. Since private corporations owned the property damaged by the defendants, “terrorism
enhancement” is not likely to get applied.
At court, Daniel read a statement to the judge expressing his disillusionment
with the use of arson as a tactic for positive change but affirmed he is still
committed to social change, animal rights and the preservation of the environment.
The sentencing date will be determined at the next status hearing scheduled for
December 14th. The time leading up to this will be critical, and Daniel’s
family and friends are requesting letters sent to the judge to ensure he gets
the best possible outcome at sentencing.
Daniel’s plea agreement can be downloaded from his support website.