American Dissidents in Prison or Exile

public domain photo
public domain photo

Criticizing foreign governments is risk free; criticizing your own … not so much.

When asked how many people in America besides Leonard Peltier are currently in jail for their political beliefs I realized I didn’t know the answer. What follows is a preliminary list. It is not nearly complete but the fact that there are any names makes me nervous especially in light of reports on local police using military technology to spy on ordinary citizens, the increasing militarization of local police agencies and the US military’s new direction in preparing for civil unrest.


Some of the people listed below were convicted for something called ‘mob action.’ I had to look up what ‘mob action’ means. Mob action means ‘illegal assembly’ even though I was under the impression that freedom of assembly: the right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend common interests was specifically protected under the first amendment of the American Constitution. Quite a few people on the list were jailed for ‘conspiracy’ which I decided to call ‘thoughtcrime’ because I just re-read 1984.

I hate how Alex Jones this sounds but …

In Exile

Edward Snowden. NSA whistleblower

American Prisoners of Conscience Currently Imprisoned

Cecily McMillan, Occupy activist
Chelsea Manning, whistleblower on Iraq war
John Kiriakou, CIA whisleblower on torture
Barrett Brown, Journalist reporting on Anonymous
Marie Mason, arson and vandalism
Eric McDavid, thought crime
Brandon Baxter, thought crime (Cleveland 4)
Connor Stevens, thought crime (Cleveland 4)
Doug Wright, thought crime (Cleveland 4)
Joshua Stafford, thought crime (Cleveland 4)
Jared Chase, arson and mob action (NATO 3)
Brian Jacob Church, arson and mob action (NATO 3)
Brent Betterly, arson and mob action (NATO 3)

Image borrowed from
Image borrowed from



6 thoughts on “American Dissidents in Prison or Exile

  1. As it was already stated you are missing many because of the dynamics involved for instance I am former ICE agent who the federal government framed by pressuring my ex-girlfriend into filing a stalking charge on me. They set my bond to half a million dollars and offered me 2 years probation after a few months. I stayed in jail so I could try to clear my name but after a year I gave up plead out and plan on leaving the US. They did this to me because they had my phone tapped and didn’t like things I was saying about the federal government.


  2. I am glad you are feeling hopeful Debra and in some sense I can relate to that here. our gov. is so heavy handed that people are asking questions ; people (some) are actually coming to question democracy and their rights and wanting to find out how to proceed to a better life for all.
    sometimes it is the darkness that brings forth the greater light.


    1. Not that we want it to get worse but I yeah I think sometimes the heavy hand helps people see just what is going on.


  3. Sadly we are a very ignorant/oblivious public when it comes to what is really going on. Your list is just ones that made it to public attention. I fear there are many more. What really bothers me is how people believe what they want to believe and are less and less interested in the truth. I believe this is just where the powers that be want us : (


    1. I have to admit my list is pretty biased, too. I have no idea of religious or right wing dissidents because I frankly don’t look for those kinds of news articles so the list most certainly should be longer. But. I just read an amazing essay by Howard Zinn that really inspired me. He said one of the most noteworthy aspects of recent history is just how quickly and unpredictably things can change. People often point to the fall of the Berlin Wall but there are dozens of other examples of people just deciding to take action when necessary. I think I see a change in attitude lately. I feel very hopeful.


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