At the April 24 (2009) hearing, Judge Moscone denied defense requests to force the release of FBI wiretap surveillance of Black Panther phones in the San Francisco 8 case. In doing so, he accepted the affidavit of an FBI "taint team" which has not been seen by the defense and asserts that no FBI wiretaps include any surveillance of the eight. It was argued that it is hard to believe the FBI’s findings about their own surveillance and even more unbelievable that the illegalities of COINTELPRO (the FBI’s counter intelligence program) would not be relevant in this case. Nonetheless, the ruling makes these wiretaps “undiscoverable at this time,” according to the Judge's ruling.
The prosecution claims not to have any access to these wiretaps either. This assertion is equally incredible given that the FBI always worked with local and state police agencies in conducting its war against the Black Liberation movement. The prosecution also claims that it cannot order the release of FBI files – which is absurd given that the FBI was “involved since day one” according to defense arguments and is borne out by the fact that an early grand jury was called by the federal government in this case.
It was made clear in court today that the FBI made the Black Panther Party the number one target of the FBI at the time and that there is no doubt that this includes these men because of their relationship to the Party. The Judge responded by likening such requests to a defense fishing expedition.
Neither Herman Bell nor Jalil Muntaqim was handcuffed in the courtroom. Lynne Stewart, her husband, Ralph Poynter, and Ward Churchill showed their solidarity with the San Francisco 8 by joining numerous other community members for today’s hearing.
The Preliminary Hearing in the SF 8 Case begins Monday, June 8th. It is scheduled to run Monday-Thursday for 3-4 months. Please check here and the website to sign up for emails, sign the letter to Drop the Charges and organize support!