Portland: Conditions for release of Sergey Turshanskiy set; ordered to not interact with anarchist organizations

Please note, to all reading this, but especially anyone affiliated with the U.S. Attorney’s office, or any court official: We are posting this story as a public news story. We are not currently in contact with Sergey nor has there been any attempt by Sergey to contact us following this order from Judge Stewart regarding Sergey’s release. We view the attempt to limit Sergey’s contact with his supporters and friends as yet another example of state repression specifically aimed at isolating and alienating those whom the state wishes to attack. If anything, this act by the court should send a strong and reverberating message that support, especially from groups acting to support non-cooperating witnesses in the Northwest Grand Jury, has been deemed a powerful weapon against the state and its program.

From Oregon Live:

Sergey Turzhanskiy, accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Portland police cruiser in early November, was held on $1 million when he was charged in state court.

Now that he’s accused of attempted arson and possession of a destructive device in federal court for the alleged crime, a federal judge ruled Wednesday he can be released with several conditions as he awaits trial.

The most unusual condition: Turzhanskiy must cease communication and contact with all anarchist groups. In particular, he must have no contact with members of a group that a federal prosecutor called the Resist the NW Grand Jury.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen F. Peifer said the group is made up of anarchists who are “frankly in the process of trying to obstruct” the federal inquiry into the May Day firebombing at the Seattle federal courthouse.

Peifer also told the court Wednesday that there were people who came to Turzhanskiy’s first federal court appearance in Portland last month who are involved in the investigation into the Seattle courthouse firebombing.

A post on the Resist the NW Grand Jury’s Facebook page Dec. 5 said, “Our friend Sergey has been in jail for a full month now (unrelated to the grand jury),” and asked if readers have written to him yet.

Further, Peifter said there were “Free Sergey” postings regarding Turzhanskiy on the websites or Facebook pages of the Denver Anarchist Black Cross and Portland Anarchist Black Cross.

Peifer urged the court not to release Turzhanskiy, considering the danger of the offense and his ties to the anarchist groups.

“Our concern is the defendant is a flight risk because of his serious involvement with anarchist activity, which is a threat to the community,” Peifer said.

Police said he threw a flaming Pabst Blue Ribbon beer bottle, containing lighter fluid and a rag, at a marked police car in the North Precinct parking lot. It nicked the car hood and rolled off, was picked up and thrown again at the same car. No one was injured.

Defense attoreny Patrick J. Ehlers, of the federal public defender’s office, countered that Turzhanskiy does not have a significant criminal record with one prior conviction for contributing to the deliquency of a minor.

Ehlers said one of the websites that Peifer referred to was created simply to raise money for Turzhanskiy’s bail and attorney fees while in state custody, and has been taken down at Ehler’s request.

And, while Turzhanskiy has the freedom to associate with whom he wishes and enjoys the freedom of expression, Peifer said his client was willing to agree to have no contact with any anarchist groups as a condition of his release.

Turzhanskiy would continue to live with his girlfriend in Portland, Ehlers said. His girlfriend’s father, a doctor who works out of state, has agreed to pay Turzhanskiy $12 an hour to do transcriptions for his medical practice.

Ehlers argued that Turzhanskiy is not a danger to the community.  He stressed that no one was injured in the alleged arson, that the flaming bottle wasn’t thrown at a person.

“This is not something like an apartment complex or a residence, where someone was in immediate danger,” he argued.

Ehlers added that his client is committed to following the court orders. “He’s very engaged in his case and he wants to do everything appropriately,” Ehlers said in court.

U.S. District Judge Janice M. Stewart said the fact Turzhanskiy has a place to live and doesn’t have a significant criminal record makes him releasable, though she said she was concerned about his anarchist connections.

She ordered him not to have electronic or personal communication with any anarchist group, not even through a third party. That’s in addition to orders that he remain at his girlfriend’s house, surrender his passport, maintain a job and not use any drugs or alcohol.

“You’re going to be on a very tight leash,” Stewart warned Turzhanskiy. “If you violate any one of these conditions, you’ll find yourself back here.”

A trial date was set for March 5.

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