Marty Gottesfeld: Another Whistleblower In Solitary Confinement

By John Kiriakou, 

March 20, 2019


Above Photo: A photo of Martin Gottesfeld prior to his imprisonment. 
Photo | FreemartyG


CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou on the story of Marty Gottesfeld, 
another truthteller who, like Kiriakou, paid a heavy price for 
speaking truth to power.

Last year I 
about a whistleblower from New England who took direct action to save 
a child's life and who paid for it with his freedom.  Marty 
Gottesfeld is now serving 10 years in prison for trying to save 
Justina Pelletier from abuse at the hands of her doctors at 
Children's Hospital in Boston.

At the age of 14, Justine developed searing stomach pain and 
inexplicable digestive problems. Her parents took her to a series of 
doctors until a metabolic geneticist at Tufts Medical Center 
diagnosed her with mitochondrial disease, a genetic malady that can 
lead to weakened muscles, neurological problems and dementia.

Her symptoms worsened over the course of the next 18 months until the 
pain was too much to bear. She began slurring her speech and was 
unable to stand. Finally, her parents took her to Boston Children's 
Hospital, a leading institution affiliated with Harvard University. 
It was there that doctors said Justina didn't have mitochondrial 
disease at all. They said she had mental illness and her symptoms 
were psychosomatic. They took her off her medications, but her 
parents refused to comply. When they went to take Justina home, they 
were blocked by hospital guards. The hospital took Justina into 
"state custody" and reported her parents to state officials for 
"medical child abuse." It was then that the case went off the rails.

Transferred to a Psychiatric Ward

Justina was transferred to the hospital's child psychiatric ward, 
where her condition worsened even more. She could no longer stand or 
walk and her hair fell out. Her toenails were actually ripped out 
when hospital staff dragged her, accusing her of refusing to walk. 
Justina was allowed one 20-minute call per week with her parents, but 
that call was monitored by staff, and they were forbidden from 
discussing her care. She resorted to making crafts out of paper in 
which she embedded messages and sent them to her parents. One said 
simply, "I'm being tortured."


Justina Pelletier, seated, speaks to media alongside the Rev. Patrick 
Mahoney, left, and her mother Linda Pelletier on Thursday, Feb. 25, 
2016, outside the Statehouse in Boston. The Pelletier's filed a 
lawsuit against Children's Hospital in Boston over a 
medically-related custody dispute. The case hinged on dueling 
diagnoses of Justina's condition. (AP Photo/Bob Salsberg)

Justina's parents sued Children's Hospital with the full support of 
the original doctor from Tufts. But the doctors at Children's argued 
that the only danger to Justina's health was her parents. They said 
that Justina had been overmedicated and that her parents had ignored 
her mental illness. A judge agreed, at least for the time being. That 
was until an investigation by 
Boston Globe found that Children's Hospital had done this before, to 
other parents. Indeed, in the previous 18 months, the hospital had 
removed at least five other children from their parents for "medical 
child abuse," something that hospital staffers called a "parentectomy."

The story drew the attention of Marty Gottesfeld, a computer-security 
expert. He was appalled at the treatment to which Justina and her 
family were being subjected and he decided to act. He initiated a 
denial of service attack against the Children's Hospital computer 
system and against the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, 
where Justina was later moved. Children's complained that the attack 
cost the institution $300,000 to mitigate and $300,000 in lost 
donations because it took place during the annual pledge drive. But 
that attack also served to raise public awareness of Justina's plight 
and may have been the reason she was finally moved to a facility 
nearer her family in Connecticut.

Justina's parents kept up the pressure on the hospital, the state, 
and the judge overseeing the case. Justina and her sister were able 
to smuggle out a 45-second video in which she implored the judge to 
let her go home to her family. It was clear that after 16 months in a 
psychiatric ward her problems were not "in her head." They were in 
her genes. The original Tufts doctor was right. Justina had 
mitochondrial disease. The judge finally reversed his decision and 
sent her home.

Prosecutors, however, focused on Gottesfeld and he was soon 
arrested.  His case was assigned to Judge Nathaniel Gorton, the same 
judge who oversaw the harsh case against privacy pioneer Aaron 
Schwartz, who eventually committed suicide under the weight of his 
spurious federal charges.  Gorton is known as a hanging judge; he 
proved that with Gottesfeld's sentence.

Reporting from Prison

Gottesfeld has tried to make good use of his time since he entered 
the "justice" system.  He has reported on waste, fraud, abuse, and 
illegality in the Justice Department; he's written about the 
corruption and conflict of interest of his judge; and he has spoken 
out against intolerable prison conditions.  His punishment has been 
swift and severe.

Last week Gottesfeld was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention 
Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York.  This is the same prison that had 
power outage last month resulting in conditions so severe that they 
violated the human rights of the prisoners there and made 
international news.  And to make matters worse, Marty was placed in 
solitary confinement and is now scheduled to be transferred to 
something called a Communications Management Unit (CMU).

Marty's note from the hole at the Metropolitan Detention Center. @FreeMartyG

A CMU puts onerous controls on a prisoner's ability to communicate 
with the outside world.  I was in a "modified CMU" when I was at the 
Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania. With a 
modified CMU, both my incoming and outgoing mail were read, scanned, 
and kept in the prison's Investigative Unit. My phone calls were all 
monitored in real time, and I was subjected to routine and regular 
"shake downs," where the guards confiscated whatever it was that I 
happened to be writing at any given time.

Marty's experience will likely be worse.  He has been covering 
Justice Department malfeasance for years now at such sites as The 
Western Journal, Red State, World News Daily, and now The 
Intercept.  But CMU placement will deny him any access to the press 
whatsoever. It will silence him.  This is, of course, a violation of 
his constitutional right to freedom of speech.  But the Justice 
Department has only to say that Marty's journalism is a "threat to 
the continuing operation of the institution" to justify this loss of 
rights. Solitary confinement makes everything even worse.

I called the Justice Department to ask several questions.  Why was 
Marty Gottesfeld transferred to MDC Brooklyn and not directly to a 
low-security prison? Why was he placed in solitary confinement?  And 
why is he being designated for a CMU?  The response was short:  No comment.

The Gottesfeld experience should be a reminder for all of us. The 
Justice Department will stop at nothing to silence truth-tellers.  It 
doesn't want people to know about crooked judges and prosecutors, 
unsanitary and unhealthy conditions, animal-grade food, and the 
violation of constitutional rights.  It doesn't matter who the 
president is.  They all do it.  We just have to keep up the fight.

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