Journalist faces 21 years in jail for recording police
The journalist behind a popular activism site is facing 21 years in prison for publishing conversations with law enforcement officials that he says were on-the-record while investigating a police brutality case in the state of New Hampshire.
Adam “Ademo” Mueller is awaiting trial after being charged with three felony counts of wiretapping; if convicted, he could be sentenced to 7-years in jail for each instance.
Mueller, a journalist who is also the founder of CopBlock.org, is maintaining his innocence in a case that has quickly garnered the supports from fellow activists who say the defendant has been targeted for trying to hold members of law enforcement accountable.
By running CopBlock, Mueller has created an online outlet to release information about law enforcement officers that may not make it to the mainstream media. His attempt at showcasing what incident in particular he found a problem with his put the next two decades of his life in question, though.
Mueller was indicted following a report he filed in response to an incident at a Manchester, NH high school last year that ended with 17-year-old Frank W. Harrington being slammed face-first into a table and detained for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Video footage of a school police officer picking up Harrington and assaulting him were leaked to Mueller, who followed up on his own and attempted to interview a Manchester police captain, the Manchester High School West principal and a school secretary as part of his investigation into the incident. Mueller later used samples of those recorded phone interviews in a video report of the incident that he published to his website, and although he says he identified himself as a member of the media when approaching those officials for comment, he has been charged with felony wiretapping for allegedly putting those conversations on tape without expressed permission.
“Why am I in jail with a guy who beats up his wife and gets a one-year sentence from the state, but I’m facing 21 years for filming somebody?” Mueller told Judge Kenneth Brown while appearing in court last week, CNN reports.
The father of Harrington tells reporters with CopBlock that he opposes the charges as well. “No matter what, nobody’s child should be abused like that in school,” he says.
Mueller has been offered a two-year suspended sentence as part of a plea deal, but he tells his supporters that he refuses to cooperate with them by agreeing to play games.
“Here’s how I see the offer: it’s a stellar deal if I actually thought what I had done was wrong,” Mueller writes on CopBlock.org. “First, I can’t go against my principles and sign a deal that says I acknowledge my actions as wrong or illegal. Second, I’m not a hypocrite. How can I advocate refusing plea deals and sign one myself? I don’t judge anyone who has taken pleas because each case/charge is different. Third, I am confident I can show a jury, with facts and logic, that I shouldn’t be caged for my actions…. Let the circus begin!”
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that around two dozen protesters surrounded the Hillsborough County Superior Court on Monday to show their support for Mueller. Fellow activists informed potential jurors reporting to the courthouse that under a just-passed jury nullification legislation, jurors can find defendants not guilty based on their own conscience rather than established laws.