It happens in China routinely. It frequently happened in the old Soviet Union. Undoubtedly in North Korea, although generally there's no one around to witness it. But in the United States? It happens here, too, apparently.
A lawsuit has been filed by officials with the Rutherford Institute on behalf of a Marine who was jailed and held for the comments he made on Facebook – comments that expressed a dissatisfaction with the present direction of the U.S. government.
According to officials at Rutherford, the civil rights action names as defendants members of law enforcement and the government who were involved in last year's episode where Marine veteran Brandon Raub, 27, was arrested by a swarm of FBI and Secret Service and forcibly detained in a psychiatric ward for a week.
His crime was posting controversial song lyrics and political views on Facebook, the institute reported.
In one of his postings, he cited the evil in the world.
"The United States was meant to lead the charge against injustice, but through our example not our force. People do not respond to having liberty and freedom forced on them," he wrote.
He was released later when a judge stepped in and concluded the prosecution's case against Raub was "so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy."
The lawsuit asks for damages for Raub for the attack he endured. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., and claims Raub's seizure and detention were part of a plan executed by the Obama administration called "Operation Vigilant Eagle."
That, the institute explains, was a federal program to do surveillance on military veterans who express views critical of the government.
Institute attorneys claim the attempt to label Raub as "mentally ill" and authorities' efforts to involuntarily commit him into custody was intended to silence his criticism of the government. However, they explain the strategy also violated Raub's First and Fourth Amendment rights.
"Since coming to Raub's defense, The Rutherford Institute has been contacted by military veterans across the country recounting similar incidents. In filing a civil suit against government officials, Rutherford Institute attorneys plan to take issue with the manner in which Virginia's civil commitment statutes are being used to silence individuals engaged in lawfully exercising their free speech rights," the organization said.
"Brandon Raub's case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that is targeting military veterans for expressing their discontent over America's rapid transition to a police state," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
"Brandon Raub is not the first veteran to be targeted for speaking out against the government. Hopefully, by holding officials accountable, we can ensure that Brandon is the last to suffer in this way."
It was last Aug, 16 when Chesterfield police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub's home and asked to talk with him about his Facebook posts.
"Like many Facebook users, Raub, a Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions. Without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, law enforcement officials handcuffed Raub and transported him to police headquarters, then to John Randolph Medical Center, where he was held against his will," the Institute reported.
"In a hearing on Aug. 20, government officials pointed to Raub's Facebook posts as the reason for his incarceration. While Raub stated that the Facebook posts were being read out of context, a Special Justice ordered Raub be held up to 30 more days for psychological evaluation and treatment."
When Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett, however, found out about the case, he ordered it dismissed and Raub released, because there was no evidence of a case.
In asking the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to acknowledge the harm done to Raub and to rectify the violation of his First, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights, Institute attorneys are requesting that Raub be awarded damages.
The 14-page complaint describes Raub's "baseless incarceration" and said it violated his free speech, due process and other rights.
The complaint claims the arrest was a "pretext" that was orchestrated to "silence Raub's speech critical of the government by subjecting him to involuntary commitment."