David Agranoff Released

 
SAN DIEGO -- A federal judge Wednesday morning ordered the release of
an animal rights activist she had jailed after he refused to testify
before a grand jury investigating a massive arson fire two years ago.
David Agranoff is the second activist ordered released within a week
from federal custody in San Diego. He is expected to be discharged
from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown San Diego this
afternoon.

Judge releases second activist jailed over refusal to testify in arson
case
By Onell R. Soto
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
11:53 a.m. October 12, 2005
SAN DIEGO -- A federal judge Wednesday morning ordered the release of
an animal rights activist she had jailed after he refused to testify
before a grand jury investigating a massive arson fire two years ago.
David Agranoff is the second activist ordered released within a week
from federal custody in San Diego. He is expected to be discharged
from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown San Diego this
afternoon.
Judge Irma E. Gonzalez said she didn't think it was likely that
31-year-old Agranoff, a San Diego resident, was ever going to testify
before the grand jury and as a result, keeping him in jail would only
punish him.
Agranoff's jailing on a finding of civil contempt was intended to get
him to testify, not to punish him for not doing so.
A prosecutor argued that Agranoff should be jailed at least until the
end of the year, and asked the judge to fine him $25 a day.
The judge sided instead with defense lawyer Jeremy Warren, who said
it's clear that Agranoff will not cooperate with the grand jury he
believes is violating his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech
and association.
The grand jury is investigating an early morning arson fire that
caused $50 million damage to an unfinished housing complex in
University City on Aug. 1, 2003.
The Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group also known
as ELF, claimed credit for setting the fire in a banner left at the
construction site and in an e-mail to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The grand jury is also probing a speech in Hillcrest that night by
sometime ELF spokesman Rodney Coronado, who described how he set fire
to a Michigan animal testing laboratory in the 1990's, a crime for
which he spent several years in prison.
Last week, Gonzalez released activist Danae Kelley, 21, of San Diego,
after prosecutors lifted immunity from prosecution they had granted
her while seeking her testimony before the same grand jury. Kelley was
then able to claim her Fifth Amendment rights against incriminating
herself.
A third San Diego activist who has refused to testify, Nicole Fink,
remains in jail.
Onell Soto: (619) 293-1280;  onell.soto@uniontrib.com




homepage:: http://sandiego.indymedia.org/

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