A group of House Democrats is calling on the Justice Department to release environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger. Donziger’s legal team is appealing his six-month prison sentence for contempt of court, which he started in late October. He was convicted of the misdemeanor after a corporate prosecutor tied to the oil and gas industry went after him for successfully taking on Chevron on behalf of Indigenous groups in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The private prosecutor has Chevron as one of its clients.
Democratic lawmakers, spearheaded by Congressmembers Rashida Tlaib and Jesús “Chuy” García, said in their letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland the case has “shocked the worldwide community of environmental justice and human rights advocates and creates a distinct chilling effect on this type of advocacy.” Steven Donziger spoke to Democracy Now! just hours before he reported to jail.
Steven Donziger: “What’s really happening here is Chevron and these two judges and, really, allies of the fossil fuel industry are trying to use me as a weapon to intimidate activists and lawyers who do this work, who do the frontline work of defending the planet. What’s at stake, really, I mean, not only my freedom — what’s at stake is the ability to advocate for human rights in our society.”