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Kanahele: 'I'm a political prisoner'

Appeal for bail planned this week

Honolulu Advertiser
Tuesday, August 8, 1995

By Mark Matsunaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele, head of the self-proclaimed Nation of Hawaii, looks forward to his day in court. But he'd rather be outside preparing for it.

Kanahele, 41, is being held without bail at Halawa Correctional Facility pending trial in October on federal charges of harboring a fugitive.

"I'm here for one reason: I'm a political prisoner," Kanahele said in an interview yesterday at the prison.

His lawyer, Hayden Aluli, plans to seek his release on bail this week. If the appeal fails, Kanahele will be sent to a federal facility in Alameda, Calif., until his trial, which is tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 3.

Meanwhile, Kanahele said "I'm being taken care of, and not special - just like anybody else."

He met with reporters on a lanai next to a small yard inside the prison. He wore a green shirt and pants with "Halawa Correctional Facility" stenciled in white. He shares a cell with another federal detainee, a non-Hawaiian, according to a prison spokesman.

"It's good to be out and having fresh air," said Kanahele.

He was secretly indicted last Wednesday on three charges related to his alleged harboring of Hawaiian tax protester Nathan Brown. Kanahele was arrested Wednesday afternoon at Honolulu airport.

He said he was "really surprised" by the arrest, which occurred when his flight from Maui to Kauai stopped at Honolulu.

On Friday, federal Magistrate Barry Kurren ordered Kanahele held without bail pending trial. Kurren said he considers Kanahele "a danger to the community" and a likely no-show for trial. This was after federal authorities presented a list of allegations - many unsubstantiated and unconfirmed - to depict Kanahele and has followers as violent and dangerous.

"That's not true," Kanahele said yesterday. "I've always advocated non-violence and a peaceful transition, and that's the bottom line."

Kanahele said he was convinced to eschew violence when he spent almost a year in prison on a 1987 conviction for threatening a police officer during an occupation of the Makapuu Lighthouse.

Kanahele was sentenced to five years in the case. He said yesterday he served 11 months.

He said he also spent eight months in the youth detention facility as a teen-ager and was on probation for breaking into cars on Maui.

Aluli said he would appeal Kurren's order to U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor.

Aluli said the prosecution of Kanahele appears to be selective, discriminatory, and retaliatory.

Aluli also said he believes Kurren should have excused himself from Kanahele's case.

Kurren said during Friday's hearing that he felt threatened by a warning notice served on him and other federal and state officials by Kanahele's supporters. That, Aluli says, appears to be a conflict of interest.

Kurren did not return a phone call to his office for comment on the issue yesterday.

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