TO: Ambassador Claire Cronin, US Embassy, 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge Dublin 4
May 9th, 2023
Dear Ambassador Cronin
We write in respect to the current situation of Steven Donziger and the March 2023 decision of the US Supreme Court not to hear any further appeals in the case. Given the nature of the case constructed against him, the national and international dismay and criticism over his treatment especially his incarceration and house arrest, we wish to protest in the strongest possible terms, the harassment directed at Steven for his ‘crime’ of defending the rights and livelihoods of indigenous people and farmers in Ecuador.
It is truly shocking that the legal and corporate climate in the US should not only allow this to happen but also consistently uphold what amounts to judicial harassment, in the interests of the oil giant Chevron (the owners of Texaco). As you are aware, the charges manufactured against him and his subsequent treatment along with the legal gymnastics employed have been subjected to intense criticism and even dissent by justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh of the Supreme Court..
We wish to insist that the US government fully implement the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, including the launch of an impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances that led to Steven Donziger’s arbitrary detention, to prevent something like this from happening again, and to swiftly enact anti-SLAPP laws to protect those who call out corporate crimes. This is vital not just in the US but also internationally.
In our view and in light of the current climate emergency we face and the role of fossil fuels and fossil fuel companies in that emergency, powerful corporations must not be allowed to continue abusing the law to silence and intimidate human rights defenders or ‘whistleblowers’.
We respectfully request you, Madame Ambassador to use your good offices to see that the corrupt power of Chevron and its legal representatives to harass, intimidate and prosecute Steven Donziger ends and ends without delay. Cases such as this are crucial in the context of the defence of human rights, our planet and our laws.
This is Steven Donziger’s Story – uploaded by Just Forests 24th August 2023.
Four years ago a judge with financial ties to Chevron had me locked up at home at the request of a private prosecutor from a Chevron law firm. I still get shocked every time I think about it – and I am still terrified that such a thing could happen again in the United States.
The background is chilling even to contemplate.
In 2013, Amazon Indigenous peoples won a historic $10 billion pollution case against Chevron in Ecuador after the company deliberately dumped billions of gallons of cancer-causing oil waste onto ancestral lands. In retaliation, Chevron used dozens of law firms and 2,000 lawyers to attack me in the US with a demonization campaign unprecedented in its ferocity.
In all, I spent 993 days in detention for refusing to comply with an illegal court order that I turn over my computer and cell phone and troves of confidential information to Chevron. I believe the order was designed to force me to put the lives of my own clients in danger.
While they took away my physical freedom, I would never let them take my spirit. That’s one reason I love the picture above. It was taken by my son Matthew in August 2021 after two years and one week of home detention with that ankle bracelet on my lower leg 24/7. I slept, ate, and showered with it on. This was just weeks before the judge forced me into a brutal federal prison locked down because of Covid.
I became the first lawyer in US history ever to be locked up on a petty misdemeanor charge. The judge was angry that I had appealed his order that I turn over my computer and confidential case file to Chevron. The judge had appointed a Chevron law firm to privately prosecute me in the name of the US government.
To this day, I cannot travel because Chevron and Judge Kaplan won’t return my passport. I cannot work because Chevron orchestrated the removal of my law license. I have no bank account because Chevron is threatening to take all my money.
But we are not done. In fact, our latest counter-campaign is just beginning.
Recently, my lawyers sent another letter to the United Nations Working Group On Arbitrary Detention. They are asking the five jurists who sit on this body to rule that my mistreatment by the US government violates international human rights law.
Our goal is to urge the WGAD to demand the US government immediately restore my full rights – including my right to international travel and my right to work so the affected communities of Ecuador can have a realistic hope of recovering their judgment.
But to have any chance, we must create significant global pressure.