The latest decision by the US Supreme Court seems highly problematic, not least because America backs terrorists group every day (hello Afghanistan and Iraq, as two recent examples) yet wants to tell its citizens that they can only back groups that speak in lovely, warming tones about the super-power:
The US supreme court has upheld a broad-ranging law that allows Americans who offer advice to banned organisations, including legal assistance and information on conflict resolution, to be prosecuted as terrorists.
The case arose out of human rights advice given by a California group to Kurdish and Tamil organisations that are listed as terrorist groups in the US.
The supreme court upheld the Obama administration’s argument that even advice intended to be used for peaceful purposes amounted to “material support” for terrorism.
That includes a lawyer submitting a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a banned group or helping a proscribed organisation to petition international bodies to bring an end to a violent conflict.
“The supreme court has ruled that human rights advocates, providing training and assistance in the nonviolent resolution of disputes, can be prosecuted as terrorists,” said David Cole, a Georgetown university law professor who argued the case before the court.
“In the name of fighting terrorism, the court has said that the first amendment [on free speech] permits congress to make it a crime to work for peace and human rights. That is wrong.”
The ruling is likely to further complicate the work of activists in support of controversial causes that has already seen highly contentious prosecutions over other forms of support, such as fundraising.
Palestinian activists have been prosecuted and jailed for raising cash for social groups dealing with issues such as housing and welfare that have ties to Hamas, which governs Gaza.
Individuals and groups offering legal or other specialist advice to such groups are also now open to prosecution.