New York, NY – This morning, activist Daniel McGowan was picked up from the halfway house where he has been residing and taken into custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. McGowan, who was released from prison in December and is serving out the last six months of his sentence at a halfway house, is a plaintiff in a Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit, Aref v. Holder, challenging the constitutionality of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) experimental Communications Management Units (CMUs) where he was kept for four years. New documents uncovered in the case indicate he was placed in these highly restrictive experimental units as retaliation for his political writings on the environment while he was in prison. His attorneys released the following statement:
Daniel McGowan is back in BOP custody. He was taken by federal marshals from his halfway house this morning, and brought to the Metropolitan Detention Center. We have received information that this was triggered by an opinion piece he published on the Huffington Post Monday, and we are currently trying to confirm this and learn more about the situation. We were unable to meet with him today because, we were informed, he was being processed. We will seek to meet with him tomorrow and follow all avenues to secure his release. The name of the piece is “Court Documents Prove I Was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for My Political Speech.” If this is indeed a case of retaliation for writing an article about the BOP retaliating against his free speech while he was in prison, it is more than ironic, it is an outrage.
Aref v. Holder challenges the violation of prisoners’ fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to due process. Attorneys say that because transfer to CMUs are not based on facts or discipline for infractions, a pattern of religious and political discrimination and retaliation for prisoners’ lawful advocacy has emerged. Daniel McGowan recently amended the complaint to include claims of retaliation for First Amendment protected speech.
The law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and attorney Kenneth A. Kreuscher are co-counsel in the case.