Marty Gottesfeld, 37, is an American political prisoner. There’s just no other way to describe the self-taught, nonviolent techie/medical freedom activist now locked away in solitary confinement at a secret federal detention facility in Marion, Illinois — after being transferred this month from a different secret center in Terre Haute, Indiana. Both are known as “communications management units” (CMUs) in prison industrial complex bureaucrat-ese.
Or you could just call them un-American penitentiary black holes.
Twice — last June and this week — I’ve asked the federal Bureau of Prisons to explain why Marty is being held in solitary confinement, how long he has been squirreled away and on what grounds he was transferred. “For privacy, safety, and security reasons,” I was told, “the BOP does not discuss any individual inmate’s conditions of confinement to include housing quarters or reasons for transfer.” This past Sunday marked four full months that Marty has been in solitary and blocked from communicating with loved ones or the media.
I first learned of Marty’s plight — and his heroism — five years ago from his loyal and vigilant wife, Dana, whose words in defense of the dissident action he took that earned him a 10-year federal sentence have never left me:
“It was the right thing to do.”
A quick recap for those who have never heard of, or have forgotten, the “Free Marty G” nightmare. In 2013, a young girl named Justina Pelletier was ripped from her parents’ custody by Boston Children’s Hospital. The teen, who has mitochondrial disease and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, had gone to BCH after coming down with a severe case of the flu. Instead of receiving top-notch care and attention at BCH, however, Justina was medically kidnapped and recklessly re-diagnosed with a psychological condition, “somatoform disorder.”
Justina was dragged from BCH’s neurology department to its infamous psych ward, where she was reprimanded for being unable to move her bowels or walk unassisted in her weakened state. At the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network residential treatment center where she was confined, she and her family recounted to me in my 2018 documentary on the case, she was harassed by a staffer while taking a shower. The physical and mental torture lasted 16 months.
Enter Marty G.
In April 2014, he helped lead a social media army that implemented distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Boston Children’s Hospital and the nearby Wayside Youth and Family Support Network residential treatment. Marty had organized a social media army to knock the computer networks of both institutions offline to protest Pelletier’s medical kidnapping. Hackers from the loose-knit collective, Anonymous, allegedly participated in the campaign.
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