Donziger’s appeal denied

US Congress and international groups demand Chevron stop targeting activists and that the attorney general Garland should release US human rights lawyer.

  • Español
  • English
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Português
  • Opinión
-A +A

After an unprecedented 800+ days of home detention, human rights attorney Steven Donziger, who helped win the historic $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron for deliberate pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon for over two decades, was sentenced to 6 months in prison. Today, the day before the historic congressional hearing of major oil CEOs summoned to Washington DC to speak on decades of dissection and misinformation, Congressional representatives, the United Nations, and human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the Protect the Protest Task Force are demanding Donziger’s immediate release from home detention and that he not be subjected to any jail time.


Around the world, hundreds of human rights and environmental defenders are killed every year, and thousands are persecuted, criminalized, and silenced. While Donziger and many like him have been silenced by corporations, governments, and others in power, the Biden administration let the injustice against Donziger endure. As major fossil fuel CEOs take a stand to answer to their wrongdoings, the Biden administration has a clear opportunity to support the people that have stood up against decades of injustice driven by powerful corporations by putting an end to the prosecution of Steven Donziger and taking the necessary measures to ensure that corporations can no longer abuse the justice system to target and harass human rights defenders.


It is time for fossil fuel companies to stop lying to the people, spreading misinformation, silencing activists, and rewriting history by vilifying those who try to expose them.


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 the ongoing legal case involving human rights lawyer Steven Donziger. Amnesty International USA also just released an Urgent Action, calling for Steven Donziger’s immediate and unconditional release.


Additionally, a 100-page report from ecological anthropologist Dr. Nan Greer will be made available during the event. The report examines Chevron’s record around the world and found 70 incidents of serious cases of abuse of both environment and local communities in 31 countries. The report further exposes how Chevron owes over $50 billion in judgments and settlement debts.




Since losing the court case in Ecuador in 2011, Chevron — represented by hundreds of lawyers at the U.S. law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher — has attacked and tried to demonize Mr. Donziger and his clients. The company alleged misconduct by paying millions of dollars in cash and benefits to its star witness, Alberto Guerra, who later admitted that he lied under oath. Forensic evidence also showed that Guerra's testimony and Chevron's misconduct claims were entirely false.


A federal judge ordered Mr. Donziger to surrender privileged and confidential phone and computer records to Chevron. When Mr. Donziger refused to disclose this information and appealed the order, the judge retaliated by charging him with criminal contempt even as the appeal was still pending. When the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York refused to prosecute the alleged contempt, the judge appointed his own judge then ordered Donziger to be placed under home detention, where he has been held for over two years months, on misdemeanor charges that carry a 6-month maximum sentence. 


The judge also appointed his own private prosecution team, composed of lawyers from Seward & Kissel, a law firm with oil industry clients that represented Chevron. It has now been revealed, through disclosures ordered by a New York federal court, that this Chevron-linked law firm has billed taxpayers well over $1 million to prosecute Mr. Donziger on a petty misdemeanor after the charges were rejected by the U.S. Attorney. In contrast, courts pay lawyers who defend misdemeanor cases a maximum of $3,200.


The judge now faces a major misconduct complaint signed by 200 lawyers who allege he has abusively targeted Donziger for 10 years to help protect Chevron from having to pay the Ecuador judgment. Hundreds of other lawyers issued a letter of support for Mr. Donziger in which they critique the various violations of law carried out by Chevron’s lawyers and the judges presiding over the civil and criminal cases.


In late September, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued a detailed 15-page decision on the case of Mr. Donziger requesting the U.S. government release him immediately and provide for compensation based on multiple violations of international law, including the “arbitrary” deprivation of Mr. Donziger's liberty and an “appalling” lack of impartiality by the judges. No Biden administration official has responded to the WGAD.


New York, NY, 26 October 2021


- Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin.
Suscribirse a America Latina en Movimiento - RSS