John McTiernan, Imprisoned Unjustly

John McTiernan is a brilliant action movie director, one of the best the cinema has ever seen. He’s responsible for Die Hard, which all by itself would have earned him a place in cinematic history. But he’s also responsible for two other little movies, Predator and The Hunt For Red October.

Now, unfortunately, he’s languishing in Federal prison, all because he answered the phone. The story is a little complicated, but it boils down to the Feds calling him up and asking him questions without properly identifying themselves, then prosecuting him for a False Statement felony for not telling the truth to a complete stranger. You can read his wife’s statement, relating their many and varied abuses of power, here.

John did nothing wrong. The Federal case was completely trumped up solely to coerce information from him, information he didn’t have. For that, they dragged him through court, wasted 7 years of his life, then threw him in jail. (Where, apparently, he isn’t doing very well.)

McTiernan’s last movie was in 2003. Since then, he’s been curb stomped by the FBI. Repeatedly. He’s lost time, money, and peace of mind.

I can only hope that, when he is released from prison, he can recover from the ordeal and get back to making kick-ass action movies.

UPDATE: Buzzfeed has a story that covers the nitty-gritty of the FBI investigation.

4 thoughts on “John McTiernan, Imprisoned Unjustly”

  1. The case and its appeals seem to have been a bit of a comedy of errors. I have to wonder why, in that article, the wife doesn’t directly mention the crime the FBI was originally targeting, which is the conspiracy to illegal wiretapping. I also don’t see why the FBI went ahead with the case when no material evidence of that crime was able to be examined by the jury, forcing them to restrict their case to false statements to the FBI, one of which was on a phone conversation. The moral rightness or wrongness of this case would seem to boil down to whether he actually did hire that PI to tap those phones, and his wife doesn’t mention that at all. The legal rightness or wrongness hinges on technicalities of the rules of evidence; if he relied on technical loopholes to protect him from prosecution for a crime, it’s perfectly fair for him to get strung up by a loophole. So this isn’t exactly a clear-cut case of authority abuse by the FBI or the courts. It’s not exactly a clear-cut anything.

    I find it amusing how both the wife and many of those commenting on the article take refuge in making comments about how this is clearly the work of the evil “right wing” or “left wing.” This is why I hate partisan politics. People choose a side, and demonize everyone on the other side as if it a monolithic evil empire besieging their virtuous rebel forces. Somehow, both sides see themselves as the oppressed minority.

  2. This is absolutely not a political thing, and making it so is stupid. (IMHO.) And, while the wife’s statement doesn’t talk about the original case, the article in The Guardian does. It seems to be a complicated mess (the way real life so often is).

  3. Seconded. The good news is that he will be able to get back to work in a matter of months, either way. In Hollywood, having a criminal record isn’t really that much of a handicap.

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