Antiwar Activist Decries Arrest for ‘Silent Dissent’ | Courthouse News Service
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Antiwar Activist Decries Arrest for ‘Silent Dissent’

(CN) - A former CIA analyst and antiwar activist claims in court that police at George Washington University "forcibly and falsely" arrested him for turning his back to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a 2011 speech on Internet freedom.

According to Raymond McGovern's federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C., the 27-year CIA veteran stood "in silent dissent" with his back to Clinton, wearing a T-shirt that said "Veterans for Peace," during a Feb. 15, 2011 speech at the university.

The topic was the U.S. government's policy on Internet freedom.

"As Secretary Clinton was reading from her prepared remarks regarding Egypt's dictatorship saying, 'Then the government pulled the plug,' the then-71-year-old McGovern was forcibly and falsely arrested by GWU police officers, grabbed by the head, assaulted, and as Secretary Clinton continued undisturbed stating, 'the government ... did not want the world to watch,' Mr. McGovern was removed from public view with excessive and brutal force, taken to jail, and left bleeding with bruises and contusions," the lawsuit states.

McGovern says the arrest violated his First Amendment rights, as Clinton "was not impeded or disrupted in any way" because of his "silent expression of dissent."

He also notes with irony that as he was being dragged out of the auditorium by campus police, Clinton "was admonishing other governments that they should not arrest protestors and suppress free expression and dissent."

He says the Department of State issued a "be-on-the-lookout" (BOLO) alert following the incident. The alert described his "considerable amount of political activism, primarily anti-war," and instructed law enforcement agents to "use caution, stop" and question him on sight.

After investigating McGovern for nearly seven months, the department eventually dropped all charges and determined that he "was engaged in no criminal activity," he claims.

McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years until his retirement in early 1990. Thirteen years later, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity "to expose that intelligence was being falsified by the U.S. government to justify war on Iraq," according to the 22-page lawsuit.

McGovern is suing Secretary of State John Kerry, George Washington University and campus police officers Christopher Brown, Michael Glaubach and Jamie Barton for retaliating against him for constitutionally protected activity in violation of the First Amendment, and for using excessive force and wrongfully arresting him in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

He seeks an order barring enforcement of the State Department BOLO alert.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed the lawsuit on his behalf.

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