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28 Mär 2021

Oliver Milman, The Guardian

USA: Steven Donziger, the lawyer who took on Chevron, now under house arrest for 600 days

"The lawyer who took on Chevron – and now marks his 600th day under house arrest", 28 March 2021

... On Sunday, Donziger reached his 600th day of an unprecedented house arrest that has resulted from a sprawling, Kafkaesque legal battle with the oil giant Chevron...

The dispute with Chevron centres upon a landmark 2011 decision by the Ecuador courts to order the company pay $9.5bn in damages to people blighted by decades of polluted air and water. Chevron has never paid up, claiming “shocking levels of misconduct” and fraud by Donziger and the Ecuadorian judiciary.

... A US federal judge then concurred with the fraud allegations, negating the possibility of wrenching the money from Chevron in its home country, finding that Donziger conducted a “pattern of racketeering activity” under statutes more commonly used to target mob bosses.

But the subsequent web of events that has led to Donziger being detained and stripped of his law license is befuddling even to legal scholars. “Frankly, I scratch my head when I look at this case,” said Larry Catá Backer, a professor of international law at Penn State University. “It is this strange multi-front battle with one extraordinary explosive development after another. It has had this magical quality to enrage everyone involved in it.”

... A Chevron spokesman said an international tribunal has confirmed the Ecuadorian decision was “fraudulent” and he denied the company has persecuted its longtime adversary. “Donziger has no one to blame but himself for his problems,” the spokesman said. “The court initiated the pending criminal case against him. Chevron is not involved in that case.”