Interviews

Interview with Stanley Cohen, criminal defense attorney, update on the "PayPal 14" case

When it comes to the Law, American criminal defense attorney, Stanley Cohen says that he's only interested in "defending the individual against the state."

From the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riots to 2011 and Occupy Wall Street, Cohen has defended thousands of activists often pro bono.

Cohen currently defends Mercedes Haeffer against the U.S. prosecution of 14 Anonymous activists, known as the PayPal 14, who allegedly participated in a December 2010 digital sit-in on PayPal's Web site after the company canceled service to WikiLeaks.

A former vice president at PayPal, Osama Bedier said the company's policy resulted from a November 2010 letter from Harold Koh, legal advisor at the State Department, to Julian Assange, editor and chief at WikiLeaks.

In the letter, the State Department refused to work with WikiLeaks or recognize the organization as a member of the media, declaring its activities "illegal".

A criminal grand jury has been investigating WikiLeaks, but an indictment has not yet been made public. According to the testimony of a special agent at the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing of U.S. v Pfc. Manning, seven civilians have been uncovered by the F.B.I. as "doing wrongdoing" including the "founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks."

Cohen has also consulted on international law and litigation strategies for Hamas and Hezbollah, and defended numerous individuals accused by the United States and Israel of terrorism and material support for terrorism.

Even Cohen's former law partner, Lynne Stewart, with whom he tried cases for the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground, was sentenced on appeal to 10 years in prison in 2010 for material support for terrorism.

The U.S. Government asserts that Lynn passed messages from her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric convicted of planning terror attacks, to his followers in al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, an organization designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States Secretary of State.

Early in his career, Cohen was charged with seditious conspiracy by Canada for his legal and political advocacy for the Mohawk Warrior Society. The charges against Cohen were later dismissed.

But, the Northern District of New York recently indicted Cohen for "impeding the administration of the federal tax code", after what Cohen describes as a a five year investigation by "national and international security" law enforcement agencies; the Treasury Department; and the I.R.S.

The indictment, says Cohen, is "a ringing endorsement" of his thirty years as a political activist and criminal defense attorney. He is currently mounting a defense.

We discuss below the PayPal case, Section 1021 of the NDAA FY2012, US v Pfc. Manning, the WikiLeaks grand jury, as well as the post 9/11 interagency process and American jurisprudence.