U.S. appeals court affirms contempt judgment for anarchist

Dena Aubin

By Dena Aubin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court has upheld a contempt judgment against a self-described anarchist who refused to testify before a grand jury thought to be investigating a 2008 bomb explosion in New York's Times Square.

Gerald Koch, 24, of Brooklyn was sent to jail in May after being found in civil contempt for refusing to testify, citing his rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

He was ordered held in federal custody for no longer than 18 months or the remaining life of the grand jury.

Koch's lawyer, Susan Tipograph, could not immediately be reached for comment. In May, she told Reuters that she believed the grand jury was probing a small bomb detonation outside a U.S. armed forces recruiting station in March 2008.

Koch was not a target of the grand jury, she said.

The explosion caused no injuries but did damage the recruiting station.

In an order on Monday, the appeals court discounted Koch's First Amendment claims, saying the grand jury was investigating a serious crime and the government "has made a convincing showing of its need to ask the questions at issue."

The government has demonstrated that it has credible evidence that Koch may have information about the crime, the three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.

Koch was associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement and his contempt proceedings in May drew large crowds of young people in a Manhattan federal court.

The case is ABC v. Gerald Koch, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, No 13-2271.

(Reporting By Dena Aubin; editing by Christopher Wilson)