As Donziger Is Jailed for Fighting Chevron, Congress Calls for His Release
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Over the last several years, Chevron sought to destroy the life of its nemesis, Steven Donziger, the human rights lawyer who helped win the over $9.5 billion judgement against the company. It failed. And while CEO Wirth, his fossil fuel mob lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, their corporate firm allies at Seward and Kissel, and corrupt judges Kaplan and Preska did succeed in forcing Donziger into jail, they have inadvertently handed the movement its biggest victory since the 2011 Ecuadorian decision was upheld by Ecuador’s supreme court in 2013.
Yesterday, I stood outside the U.S. Capitol alongside Representatives Chuy Garcia, Rashida Tlaib, and Jim McGovern and we all shared the same message: there is a reckoning coming, and Chevron will be held accountable for its crimes. Joined by Amnesty International, Protect the Protest Task Force, Law Students for Climate Accountability, actor and activist Lucy Lawless, and members of the Ecuadorian community from New York, we demanded in unison that Attorney General Garland and President Biden comply with the decision of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and immediately release Steven Donziger.
Today, the House Oversight Committee heard testimony from the CEOs of the largest oil companies based in the U.S., including Chevron, as well as the American Petroleum Institute on their deadly climate change disinformation campaigns. Meanwhile Steven Donziger, a lawyer who helped win the largest environmental judgment in history, sits in prison and has been disbarred for his work. These things are directly connected. Those who challenge corporate power in the U.S. are at risk for their work, and those who are particularly successful will be targeted, criminalized, and jailed.
As Rep. Rashida Tlaib stated at the Capitol: “Steven is supposed to report to prison today in what will go down as one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in American history. Chevron has been allowed to purchase our courts, and the White House and the Justice Department are silent.”
A new report from Nan M. Greer, Ph.D., documents how Chevron, “violates domestic and international laws with impunity” country by country. Legally, the report asserts that Chevron has “annihilated critical biodiversity hotspots around the world,” and it has amassed more than $50 billion in judgments and settlement debts that the company refuses to pay. Chevron’s actions in Ecuador and its legal response demonstrate a pattern and way of doing business, not an exception.
The cases are piling up against Chevron and its legal strategy has been thoroughly exposed as corrupt and illegal.
This week, on behalf of its 1.5 million supporters nationwide, People For the American Way wrote a letter urging President Biden and Attorney General Garland to conduct a thorough review and take appropriate action concerning Donziger. Amnesty International also just released an Urgent Action, calling for Steven Donziger’s immediate and unconditional release. A new letter was sent today to Garland by Amnesty International, Amazon Watch, Global Witness, Rainforest Action Network, Re: Common (Italy), The Corner House (UK), and the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (Nigeria) asserting this action against Donziger is clearly in retaliation for his work and he should be freed immediately.
Chevron thought it would get away with its crimes after Kaplan’s 2014 decision. But Donziger didn’t give up and neither did the people of Ecuador. Now they have a rapidly-growing international movement behind them not only calling for Donziger’s freedom but that the executives of Chevron should be on trial for their crimes. This was not Chevron’s plan. It had expected everyone to run for cover when it made an example out of Donziger and when it found a federal judge willing to do whatever they asked. Instead, Donziger has been vindicated in the eyes of the world, Chevron’s scheme has been fully exposed, and the sights of officials in the U.S. and around the world are turning back on the true criminals. Those who would try to hide the companies’ crimes and devastate the opposition by every means available, no matter how unethical or illegal.
Join this movement if you haven’t already. Become an ambassador for justice for Ecuador and hold Chevron to account. Call Attorney General Garland today and let Biden know this case is the way he must show which side he is on. Donziger and the people of Ecuador vs. Chevron IS the People vs Fossil fuels. We will not give up this fight! As Rep. Tlaib said: “They can’t jail all of us!”