USC Prof Fights Terror Charge for Backing Kurds

Supreme Court case puts law to test
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser User
Posted Feb 18, 2010 3:51 AM CST
Kurdish people demonstrate in support for the PKK, the separatist group Prof. Ralph Fertig allegedly advised.   (AP Photo/Christian Lutz)

(Newser) – A USC professor and human rights activist heads to the Supreme Court next week to fight terror charges for supporting Turkey's Kurdish minority. Ralph Fertig, 79, is a self-described pacifist who says he counseled local leaders on how to peacefully pursue their cause. Those leaders, however, may have been members of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, which the US deems a terrorist threat. Congress expanded the anti-terror law In 1996 to allow sentences of up to 15 years for providing "expert advice" to a terrorist group.

"It seems crazy to me that I could go to jail for trying to persuade people to engage in nonviolence," Fertig tells the Los Angeles Times. This is the latest in a series of battles that test America's anti-terror law. Last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared parts of the law vague and unconstitutional. The Obama administration appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the ruling undercut the war on terror.

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