April 1, 2008
Mike Webb, 212–998–6746
Jonathan Hafetz, 212–998–6289
Reverend Frederick Boyle, an ordained New Jersey minister also known as the Peace Pastor, reached an agreement with the federal government today that ends his unfair prosecution and maintains his right to speak out against the Iraq War.
Boyle was subject to a fine by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which accused him of traveling to Iraq in 2003 before the war began to protest the United States’ imminent attack on the country. Later in 2003, OFAC contacted Boyle and threatened to imprison him for up to 12 years if he did not immediately respond to their charges and answer other questions. Boyle maintained that he was singled out based upon his public opposition to U.S. military involvement in Iraq, not his alleged travel to that country.
“I’m happy that I can continue to exercise my constitutional right to freedom of religion and speech to oppose the illegal and immoral war in Iraq,” said Rev. Boyle. “It’s clear to me that the government targeted me because I forcefully spoke out against the war. I’m pleased that the Brennan Center and others were able to bring this ordeal to a successful conclusion that allows me to continue my opposition.”
The Brennan Center argued that OFAC violated Boyle’s First Amendment rights, as well as his rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Under the agreement, Boyle will pay a small settlement that amounts to fraction of the original fine, and all other charges against him will be dropped.
“The government had to throw this case out because Rev. Boyle never received an opportunity to defend himself,” said Jonathan Hafetz, Litigation Director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Project, who represents Boyle on behalf of the Center. “It appears these charges were brought to intimidate Boyle and others from speaking out and we’re pleased his Constitutional rights have been vindicated.”
Co-counsels in the case were Larry Lustberg of Gibbons, PC, Art Eisenberg of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Ed Barocas of the ACLU of New Jersey.
Boyle is available to comment on the case.
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