Why This Man Will Be Tried by an Anonymous Jury

Fraud trial for Guo Wengui, a Bannon ally, starts next month
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 25, 2024 1:30 AM CDT
Why This Man's Jury Will Be Anonymous
In this courtroom sketch, Guo Wengui, seated center, and his attorney, Tamara Giwa, left, appear in federal court, March 15, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams, File)

A self-exiled Chinese businessman is set to face an anonymous jury at his trial next month on fraud charges after a judge on Wednesday cited his past willingness to tamper with judicial proceedings as reason for concern, the AP reports. Guo Wengui goes to trial May 22 in Manhattan federal court, where jurors will be escorted by US marshals in and out of the courthouse, according to an order from Judge Analisa Torres. Lawyers for Guo agreed that the jury should be anonymous, saying in court papers that "protective measures are justified by the actions and potential actions" of the Chinese Communist Party, "who has not hesitated to use each and every means at its disposal to attack" him, the judge noted in her written order.

She also said defense lawyers oppose the claims by prosecutors that an anonymous jury was necessary on the grounds that Guo has used his organization to harass and threaten critics, and because of his "extensive obstructive conduct" and substantial media attention. "From our [perspective], it would be appropriate due to the actions and potential actions the Chinese Communist Party may take," defense attorney Sid Kamaraju said of an anonymous jury in an interview, repeating what the defense asserted in court papers.

Torres said she had previously found that Guo has demonstrated a willingness to tamper with judicial proceedings when he posted videos and social media posts encouraging followers to "persevere" with protests at the homes and offices of a bankruptcy trustee and his lawyer, resulting in threats and harassments against the trustee and his associates. The judge also said she chose not to address concerns by Guo's lawyers about the Chinese Communist Party targeting their client because the rationale from prosecutors was sufficient to order an anonymous jury. Guo, a close ally of Steve Bannon, has pleaded not guilty to charges including wire and securities fraud after prosecutors claimed he cheated thousands of investors in too-good-to-be-true offerings that promised outsize profits for investors. (More Guo Wengui stories.)

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