Free Vikram Budhi :US court sentenced Vikram to imprisonment of 57 months (4 years and 9 months)
Vikram’s sentencing was scheduled for Dec 10. As per the schedule, the hearing started and Vikram informed the court that the appointed attorney Mr. Arlington Foley never took interest in the matter and met him only once way back in June 2009. Vikram further informed the court that he had lost trust in Mr. Foley and would like the court to appoint a new suitable attorney. On this Judge Moody told Vikram “either you go ahead with Mr. Foley or represent yourself pro se.” On hearing this, Vikram had no option but to go pro se. The court permitted him to go pro se. Vikram presented all the facts but orally. The court denied admitting them unless they were filed as a motion. The judge did not let Mr. Foley go off completely and appointed him as stand-by counsel. Vikram having been left on his own had to compose himself before doing the cross of the witnesses and took slightly more time than an attorney would normally take. On this, the Judge commented sarcastically “Sure, take your time. We’ll just sit here all day. How’s that?”
Vikram like Abhimanyu of Mahabarata fought for 7 hours and argued much better than many of the attorneys. The sentencing was pushed for next day.
On Dec 11, 2009, Vikram filed 17 pages motion for subpoena of alleged victims’ records and the deliberations continued. Prosecution was pressing for 35 years of imprisonment. Finally the court sentenced Vikram to imprisonment of 57 months (4 years and 9 months) and 3 months of probation if he is not deported. The court gave him 10 days of time to appeal against the judgment in seventh circuit court of appeals.
10 days of time to file appeal seems to me too less for Vikram to prepare in absence of an expert attorney to do the paper work in view of which we must get him a suitable attorney as quick as possible. Either we get him a pro-bono attorney or hire one for him.
I would like you to know that government of India did nothing to extend any help to Vikram and it is a matter of shame. In the morning of Dec 10 I had met Mr. L K Adwani to know what Mr. S M Krishna communicated to him on the steps he took on Vikram during his last visit to Washington DC. As per Mr. Adwani, SMK did not sound confident at all and did not seem to have done anything.
GoI has done nothing and has been befooling us, media and Indian people that they are in touch with USA attorney General’s office on the issue.
In view of the above, we can propose the following.
1. Each of us needs to use our sources/contacts to get a pro-bono attorney to file appeal against the judgment or we donate/collect enough money to get an attorney for him.
2. We write emails/letters and/or call and/or send a fax to prime minister’s office/ministry of external affairs/office of USA president to register our anguish and concerns over the vikram’s issue.
3. People who are based at Delhi meet and do a march to PMO and register the protest over the carelessness of the government in handling Vikram’s case.
4. There is a fund allocated by the government to help needy Indians abroad and the same was brought to the notice of Mr. S M Krishna but still they did not appoint an attorney to defend Vikram. We must gherao the government on such lax and irresponsible behavior.
5. Because Vikram is symbolic to any and every Indian living and studying abroad, we must unite and form an association to provide financial, legal, emotional support to a Vikram. We must do enough to fix government’s accountability in such cases. I am aware that there are hundreds of Indians jailed abroad for no fault of theirs and government has done nothing to secure justice for them.
6. We get in touch with members of parliament to get the issue raised in parliament and seek formal answer from the government as to what they did to secure justice for Vikram.
Who is Vikram Budhi????
CASE BACKGROUND ON VIKRAM BUDDHI:
-Vikram Buddhi (Silver medalist, IIT-Bombay) was a graduate student studying at Purdue University, Indiana, US. He was pursuing a PhD in both pure and applied mathematics.
-In January, 2006, he was accused of posting messages to internet chat boards threatening the lives of the then-President of the US, George W. Bush and others. The messages urged the Iraqi people to avenge the deaths of innocent people in Iraq.
-Vikram was picked up for interrogation on January 16, 2006 and released two days later by the U.S. Secret Service. They completely exonerated him of any guilt, and even went so far as to prepare a report, dated February 6, 2006 stating clearly that he was not a threat in any way to Secret Service protectees.
-On April 14, 2006, he was mysteriously picked up again and jailed. The case went to trial, and a guilty verdict was returned on June 25, 2007 on eleven counts – threats to the life of George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Lynn Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld as well as threats to US installations.
-Due to a hostile judge, the jury was not allowed to be briefed on details of the case, such as the fact that these were internet postings directed to Iraqis and the lack of evidence linking Buddhi to the messages. The Purdue computer system, from which these messages were posted, have had a history of being hacked.
-It is recorded in the trial transcripts that the judge refused to instruct the jury on the law regarding speech threat cases. The judge went so far as giving the defense attorney a stern warning that he would embarrass the Defense Attorney if the Defense Attorney attempted to link the evidence on record with the applicable law during the closing address to the Jury .
-Vikram is still in jail in Chicago, where he teaches mathematics to convicts. No sentence has been pronounced; and thus, no appeal could be filed. The sentencing is likely to be pronounced at the end of August, 2009. These charges could invite a maximum sentence of 35 years.
-The Indian Government meanwhile, has not responded to numerous requests for help from his family. The embassy has not come forward with any assistance, something that is hard to imagine that the US Embassy in India would fail to offer to its citizens here.
HARASSMENT OF HIS FATHER, DR. BK SUBBARAO:
-Dr. Buddhi Kota Subbarao (Former Indian Navy Captain, PhD in nuclear technology from IIT-Bombay) went to the US on an emergency visa on June 25, 2006, as per the legal requirement. On April 19, 2006, the magistrate had stipulated that Vikram would be released on bail in the presence of a family member, who could serve as a guarantor. The trial was deflected to June 26, 2007 at which point Dr. Subbarao applied for an extension for his US visa. This was denied (and the appeals process is ongoing) and he was put under pressure to voluntarily leave the US.
-Dr. Subbarao was not allowed to attend the trial for which he has been living in Lafayette, Indiana and forgoing all income. The reason given by the judge, at the very last minute, was that he had been selected as one of three government witnesses.
-In August 2007, Dr. Subbarao’s passport was confiscated. He was told it would be returned to him if he voluntarily left the country, although that would mean that he could not return to the US for ten years. He was held in three different jails and released after three days. At another occasion, he was jailed for seven days and subjected to humiliating treatment, including being paraded around in chains through the Purdue campus.
-A few days ago, on August 5, 2009, Dr. Subbarao was picked up by the FBI while he was at the library at Purdue University. He was deported the next day and is now at his home in Vashi.
BACKGROUND ON VIKRAM BUDDHI AND DR. BK SUBBARAO
-Vikram was a National Science Talent Scholar during his student days in India. He graduated in mathematics with M.Sc degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, stood first in the class and received silver medal from IIT. Thereafter he worked for a year at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Bombay and then joined the mathematics department of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana in the year 1996. At Purdue he received MS degree in mathematics and thereafter has been pursuing Ph.D degrees simultaneously in pure and applied mathematics. At Purdue he received two times Best Teaching Award from the Department of Mathematics.
-In 2005, he led a campaign against racism in Purdue after the punishment of an African-American student for cheating at an examination, a charge for which three non-African-Americans were released.
-Vikram’s father, Dr. Buddhi is a former Indian Navy Captain with Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in nuclear technology. He is also an advocate of Supreme Court of India, having degree in law from Bombay University. He has represented successfully in public interest matters before Bombay High Court taken up by the social organization ‘Citizens For A Just Society’ founded by Dr. Usha Mehta, noted Gandhian, Freedom Fighter and Padma Vibhushan, during her life time and also subsequently.
-Dr. Subbarao is an ardent anti-nuclear activist. He wrote an article on the matter at countercurrents.org, in March 2006, right before his son was re-arrested and incarcerated. The article is here: http://www.countercurrents.org/ind-subbarao090306.htm.
-Dr. Subbarao has faced persecution of his own as a result of his being a vocal critic of a submarine design. He was arrested on his way abroad for an academic conference and charged with espionage – an accusation he successfully disproved after long periods in jail.