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Published: Wednesday, 1/4/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Fremont woman among 5 on trial for House protest


WASHINGTON -- Josie Setzler, a peace activist and grandmother from Fremont, is one of five people on trial in D.C. Superior Court this week for disrupting congressional hearings to protest government treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Ms. Setzler was one of 14 members of Witness Against Torture who stood up in the citizens' gallery of the House of Representatives during deliberations June 23 on the defense authorization bill. It contained a measure to eliminate funding from any efforts to repatriate Guantanamo detainees.

The protesters took turns standing up and reciting a statement accusing Congress of deliberating "not the passage of a bill but the commission of a crime" and asserting that the bill grants the U.S. government "powers over the lives of detained men fitting of a totalitarian state."

The activists were able to complete their statement before being led away by congressional guards. They were turned over to the District of Columbia police.

Ms. Setzler, 58, is charged with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor. In addition to her membership in Witness Against Torture, she heads Tiffin Area Pax Christi and People for Peace and Justice Sandusky County.

The government dropped charges against nine of those originally arrested, saying officers could not positively identify the activists.

The defendants said before Tuesday's start of the trial, expected to last most of the week, that they welcome the chance to present their case to a jury. "Our strategy is to put Guantanamo on trial and demand that Congress and the President close Guantanamo and restore the U.S. Constitution," Ms. Setzler said in a statement.

The four other defendants are Brian Hynes of New York City, Judith Kelly of Washington, Mike Levinson of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Carmen Trotta of New York City.

Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher is presiding.

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