categoryMenu_new
 
  Home
  EXTRAORDINARY AH Teaching from Spiritual Hierarchy
  AbundantHope
  NEW READERS! Read Here First
  Supporting AH
  Leadership of AbundantHope
  Announcements
  Regional AH Sites
  Other Sites with AH material
  Contact Us
  Becoming A Messiah
  OUR PUBLIC FORUM IS OPEN TOO ALL
  Mission Ideas
  System Busting
  Cleric Letter/English
  Translations of Cleric Letter
  AH Member Writings
  Candace
  Ron
  Rosie
  Jess
  Brian's Poetry
  James
  Giuseppe
  Esteban
  Telepathic Messages
  Candace
  Jess Anthony
  Vince
  Leonette
  John
  Adam
  Bela
  Joyce
  Hazel
  Kibo
  Peter
  Rosie
  Johan
  Lucia
  Lucia G
  Rubens
  Shellee-Kim
  Ben
  Dorothea
  Solon
  Others
  Targeted Messages
  Hano
  Light Flower
  Changing The Face Of Religion
  - Phoenix Journals - PDF in German
  Candace on Religion
  Other Spiritual Pieces
  Spiritual Nuggets by the Masters
  Phoenix Journals
  Phoenix Journals - PDF
  Telepathic Messages PDF books
  Selections from the Urantia Book
  Illustrations For The Urantia Book
  CMGSN Pieces
  THE WAVE
  Environment/Science
  David Crayford and the ITC
  Health and Nutrition
  Podcasts, Radio Shows, Video by AH
 
  Political Information
  True US History
  Human/Animal Rights
  The Miracle That Is Me
  Education
  Resources
  911 Material
  Books - eBooks
  government email/phone #'s
  Self Reliance
  Video
  Websites
  Alternative News Sources
  Art and Music
  Foreign Sites
  Health and Healing
  Human/Animal Rights
  Scientific
  Spiritual
  Vegan Recipes
  Translated Material
  Dutch
  Gekanaliseerde berichten Jess
  Gekanaliseerde berichten Candace
  Gekanaliseerde berichten Anderen
  Artikelen/berichten
  French
  Canal Jess
  Par Candace
  Other Channels
  Articles
  German
  Telepathische Nachrichten (Candace)
  Telepathische Nachrichten (Jess)
  Telepathische Nachrichten (div.)
  AH Mitgliederbeiträge (Candace)
  AH Mitgliederbeiträge (Jess)
  Spirituelle Schätze
  Italian
  Translations - Candace
  Translations - Jess
  Translations - Others
  Portuguese
  by Candace
  By Jess
  By Others
  Spanish
  Anfitriones Divinos
  Bitácoras Fénix
  Creadores-de-Alas (WingMakers/Lyricus)
  Escritos de Candace
  Escritos de Otros
  Monjoronsón
  Telemensajes de Candace
  Telemensajes de Jess Anthony
  Telemensajes de Otros
  Chinese
  By Candace
  By Jess
  By Others
  Korean Translations
  Hungarian Translations
  Swedish Translations

Search
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Political Information Last Updated: Feb 21, 2021 - 6:22:11 AM


‘I’m a Weapon of Mass Distraction’: American Lawyer Who Took On US Oil Giant Held Under House Arrest in New York for 500+ Days
By Chris Sweeney
Jan 17, 2021 - 11:37:08 PM

Email this article
 Printer friendly page Share/Bookmark

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/512620-steven-donziger-lawyer-oil-giant/


Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

16 Jan, 2021 Get short URL

‘I'm a Weapon of Mass Distraction': American lawyer who took on US oil giant held under house arrest in New York for 500+ daysSteven Donziger ©  RT

Follow RT onRTSteven Donziger's story is that of a single man battling a powerful corporation over its devastating pollution of the Amazon region - and paying a terrible price. Here, he speaks exclusively to RT.com about his ordeal.

As a law graduate from Harvard, a contemporary of Barack Obama, there's an expectation you would be exempt from the abuses of the US state.

However, things have played out differently for Steven Donziger.

He's been under house arrest for over 500 days, despite being convicted of no crime. He has been disbarred and vilified, had his bank accounts frozen, and now faces up to five months in jail. He is forced to wear a GPS device strapped to his ankle, and in order to leave his two-bedroom home in New York he needs permission 48 hours in advance.

Donziger, speaking to RT.com from his seventh floor Manhattan apartment, says: "I can't even go get the mail in the lobby. What's happening to me has never happened to any other person in America for even one day."

ALSO ON RT.COMBlocking Assange's extradition to the US is the right decision... but it's been made for the wrong reason

His crime?

Officially, he has been charged with criminal contempt of court.

The more likely reason, according to him and his supporters: he is being persecuted for taking on a US oil giant, and winning.

The saga began three decades ago in 1993, when Donziger became part of a legal team that began proceedings against Chevron for systemically polluting the land of the indigenous people in the oil-rich Lago Agrio area of Ecuador.

They won damages of $18 billion from an Ecuadorian court in 2011, later reduced to $9.5 billion - less than a tenth of Chevron's 2019 turnover of $139 billion.

Chevron, however, has not paid a cent of that. It instead turned its guns and money on Donziger, and has spent many millions - the target himself estimates it might actually be billions - in the battle against him.

‘They dumped massive amounts of toxic waste'

The polluting was done between 1964 and 1992 by Texaco, which was later bought by Chevron.

"I think this is probably the most important corporate legal accountability case in the world today," Donziger states. "It's connected to global warming and the survival of our planet.

"Oil and big fossil fuel companies do not want to pay for their pollution, if they have to, then their entire business model would be much less viable or would have to be extinguished, in my view.

"They don't pay for the damage they caused and run away with profits... it's blood money and they use a lot of that to try to green wash their reputation and attack their critics like me.

"Chevron dumped massive amounts of toxic waste and killed people in the process.

"They think by attacking me they won't have to live up to their legal obligation to the indigenous people in the Amazon they poisoned for decades to save money on their production costs.

"The larger case is still alive and is promising... they feel enormous risk."

READ MORE Climate journalists' treatment of Mike Shellenberger proves they've ditched reporting and become the climate-blasphemy police

Climate journalists' treatment of Mike Shellenberger proves they've ditched reporting and become the climate-blasphemy police

It's a complex situation, but Donziger's current predicament is because allegations have been made over his conduct in the case, with a US court ruling in 2014 that the Ecuador judgement was "obtained by corrupt means."

This is based on allegations that Donziger ghost wrote the original court judgement against Chevron and bribed Ecuadorian officials, even though the pollution damage was not challenged. This was claimed by former Ecuadorian judge Alberto Guerra, who has since admitted this was a lie.

Donziger feels that having to defend these spurious accusations is all part of a strategy of intimidation. "I defend myself constantly but I don't feel I should have to - we won the case. The whole idea is to make it a debate over me. It's a clever narrative they have created.

"I wasn't the lawyer in Ecuador, there was a legal team there but they tried to blame it on me as conceptually they can't account for the fact that Ecuadorians have the sophistication, skill, and volition to win a case against them in court.

"It has to be some American guy who manipulated that, which is not true.

"Are there things that could have been done differently? Of course, any lawyer who litigates a multi-year complex case who says otherwise is full of s**t. Those are strategic and tactical decisions, not ethical decisions."

Donziger's case, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five months, was finally due to be heard next week in New York, but due to Covid it has just been pushed back to May 10. He will have endured nearly 650 days of house arrest by then.

The reason the detention was ordered was because Donziger was deemed a flight risk, due to his links with Ecuador.

Donziger, who is 60 years old and doesn't have a criminal record, says the idea he'd flee is "preposterous": "That's not how I roll, I don't run from things and I wouldn't do that. And it makes no logical sense; if I did that I would be a fugitive for the rest of my life, and I'm only facing five months [in jail] here."

‘They want to crush me'

He marked his 500th day under house arrest last month in a scene straight out of a Latin American playbook, with an address to supporters from a window of his apartment.

Donziger is adamant he should not be facing criminal charges at all: "The orders that are the basis for these criminal charges are currently under appeal. They are civil orders, but the judge charged me with criminal contempt for not complying with a civil order that I appealed and has not been determined to be lawful yet; that's never happened, as far as we can tell, in the entire history of the United States."

The other unique element is that the US District Court for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute Donziger, but a judge allowed a private law firm to do so. It was then revealed that Chevron was a former client of the firm, as recently as 2018.

ALSO ON RT.COMUS charges for new Lockerbie suspect 32 years on are a dismal show of mawkish grandstanding

Donziger says: "Basically a private law firm was appointed by the judge to prosecute, but he hid the fact that the law firm had Chevron as a client.

"This is a corporate capture of elements of our federal judiciary for Chevron to deprive me of my liberty, take my passport, take my money, and crush me.

"They don't want me to continue my advocacy such that they will have to pay the judgement by having it enforced in countries where they have assets outside of the United States."

In the main case, three appeal courts in Ecuador have upheld the $9.5 billion award, including its supreme court. Canada's supreme court has also agreed.

Donziger feels a large part of the issue is that some elements within the US don't want to be challenged by smaller, less powerful nations.

He explains: "[The] trial court judge is the lowest level judge in the federal system and he has ruled to overturn a decision of a sovereign nation at the highest level by their supreme court. Can you imagine the reverse, if an Ecuadorian trial judge tried to overturn a US Supreme Court decision? It's judicial imperialism.

"They hate the concept of a country like Ecuador having a court that holds a big US company accountable. I don't think they want other countries ruling on the conduct of US companies to this degree."

‘I've been SLAPPED'

Donziger's law license has been suspended, as a consequence of the contempt of court charge.

He appealed but it has not been reissued. So not only is his movement restricted, but he has lost his livelihood and Chevron has had his bank accounts frozen.

Donziger feels he is a victim of a SLAPP - a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, designed to chill free speech: "What is happening to me is a small piece of a broader mosaic; I'm being used as a weapon of mass distraction.

"Chevron is trying to kill off this kind of work, to make the cost of this so high that there will be fewer human rights lawyers. My focus is to get my clients the result that has been legally granted."

But life is tough, as with no income Donziger relies solely on donations to exist.

"People donate all over the world $5 or $10 at a time, which we use to pay our bills, plus my wife has a modest job," he says. "It's a struggle to survive, and if my donations stopped I'd be homeless.

"I'm amazed at our resilience and ability to deal with it. Obviously, it's extremely depressing on one level, but it's also nourishing on another to know that you're effective enough that they go to these extreme measures.

"What's really encouraging is to see is the solidarity and response of tens of thousands of people around the world who've signed up to our campaign, the 55 Nobel laureates and 37 bar associations who've stepped up to support me - that lifts our spirits enormously.

"We try to create a level of happiness in our home every day, my wife and I vowed to not let it turn into a pathology. We're as good as we can be under the circumstances and mentally our health is solid."

READ MORE The truth on how natural gas & oil fit into US foreign policy agenda

The truth on how natural gas & oil fit into US foreign policy agenda

America has a huge media industry, but the corporate interests in his case have meant Donziger feels shunned by large parts of it. His plight has been featured only on certain platforms: "The independent media has been pretty engaged, but the big networks that rely heavily on corporate advertising have been very disengaged, and I include the New York Times in that."

Perhaps not surprisingly, given his profession, Donziger still believes in the rule of law. However, he does feel there is scope for US judges to abuse their power, as only four federal judges have ever been impeached, so some may feel they can act with impunity.

"I think the vast majority of federal judges do their jobs correctly," he states. "It is overall a pro-corporate judiciary in America, but I think almost all judges are conscientious about fulfilling their ethical duties.

"And there are lawyers who have it worse than me, who're locked up in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Russia, but this hasn't been seen before in the United States, and this trend is growing around the world.

"I don't think it should be divorced from the authorisation we see manifested by Donald Trump, Orban, the Law and Justice party in Poland, and Boris Johnson to some extent.

"These are trajectories that are quite dangerous to people of colour and vulnerable communities, and those who stand up effectively have become targets - I'm an example of that."


Donziger remains a humorous, affable man, who even makes a few wisecracks at his own expense during the interview; when discussing being in a good mental state, he quipped: "That's my own self-assessment, others might disagree," and then heartily chucked like a man without a care in the world.

He also spent the final 10 minutes of our Zoom call discussing his favourite English football team, Fulham, and their troubled season, along with his confusion at why star Dele Alli is not being picked by Tottenham Hotspur's manager Jose Mourinho.

It was reassuring to see that, while his liberty has been taken, his spirit hasn't been broken.

He isn't seeking to be placed on a platform or hailed as a campaigning icon. To him, he was simply doing his duty and he wants to return to it: "I never thought of this in any other way as a lawyer doing my job to get a result for my clients. But they want to silence dissent and send a message to anyone else who might stand up to corporations - that is, what could happen to you is what is happening to Steven Donziger."


Like this story ? Share it with a friend !

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.




All writings by members of AbundantHope are copyrighted by
©2005-2021 AbundantHope - All rights reserved

Detailed explanation of AbundantHope's Copyrights are found here


Top of Page

Political Information
Latest Headlines
Rise Of The Religious Left
Juan O Savin (Mystery Insider) chats with Michael Jaco ... World Events! - 4th March 2021
Australia is Now Paying the Price Economically for Its Hostility to China and Slavish Loyalty to The US
COVID Vaccines Deep State Weapon !
'Fear' Is The New 'Smart'
Bipartisan Senators Seek to Strip Biden of War Powers
The Vested Power Brokers Are Making Putin Public Enemy No. 1
The Web of Elite Extremists Behind Censorship of Mercola
The Disappearing Spy
We're All Europeans Now
Russia Obliterates Oil Storage Facilities in Syria Used for Oil Stolen by US, Israel & Turkey
Record 10,373 Foreign Criminals Eligible for Deportation Are Roaming Britain’s Streets Free
Dumbest "Insurrection Theater" Stunt-Of-The-Week
Ballots In Arizona’s Maricopa County Found Shredded and In Dumpster – Days Before Senate Audit To Begin
We Are At War ... Many Are Just Now Realising It Started Way Before Trump !
Covid Hoax Has Failed - What's Their Next Step?
Good Morning Sidney Powell Good Morning Juan
San Francisco Pays $16.1 Million To Shelter 300 Homeless In Tents
Media Hails New J&J Vaccine, Ignores Pharma Giant’s ‘checkered past’
Lockdown Without End ? Extending Furlough Till The End Of September Suggests No Return to Normal in June