MEDIA ADVISORY FOR January 22, 2010

CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, (410) 889-8555; 

WHAT: Press conference to announce the introduction of The Freedom of Association and Assembly Protection Act of 2009 to prohibit spying on political organizations. This bill will codify the recommendation of the Sachs Report: that law enforcement use of covert techniques and compiling of criminal intelligence dossiers about Marylanders' political views and activities be based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity; it also provides remedies for victims of illegal spying.

WHO: State Senators Jamie Raskin (D-20) and Brian E. Frosh (D-16), Delegates Sheila Hixson (D-20), Samuel I. (Sandy) Rosenberg (D-41), Tom Hucker (D-20), Heather Mizeur (D-20), the bills' co-sponsors, and ACLU of Maryland Legislative Director Cynthia Boersma. 

WHERE: Ways and Means Committee conference room, Room 130, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD.

WHEN: 11 AM on Thursday, January 22, 2009.

BACKGROUND: Since July 17, 2008, when the ACLU of Maryland uncovered that the MSP engaged in covert surveillance of local peace and anti-death penalty groups for over a year from 2005-2006, we have learned that the Maryland State Police has engaged in a far-reaching program of covert surveillance of political groups in Maryland.  Dozens of individuals and organizations have been targeted by the Maryland State Police which maintained criminal intelligence files on their political beliefs and activities, labeling them as suspected terrorists and security threats.  According to their own files, the MSP had no evidence or suspicion that any identified target was engaged in criminal activity of any kind. 

The First Amendment protects the rights of all Marylanders to organize to advance their political and social views free of the chilling specter of government surveillance and dossiers, yet Maryland has no law that protects these most basic of rights to organize, peacefully assemble, and petition our government.

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