Tim DeChristopher taken out of solitary confinement

Posted at 4:12 PM, Mar 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-30 09:36:48-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Supporters of environmental activist Tim DeChristopher say he is out of solitary confinement after thousands of phone calls flooded the prison system.

DeChristopher's attorney claims he was placed in solitary confinement earlier this month because of an e-mail he'd sent to a friend asking about a donor to his legal defense fund. His lawyer says that email somehow got back to a congressman who complained.

"A member of congress had called and complained that Tim was threatening people outside of prison, so they had to investigate the threat," said Pat Shea, DeChristopher's attorney. "So there was no beginning of the investigation and there was no end."

DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison for sabotaging a BLM oil and gas auction of land near some of Utah’s most famous landmarks. He registered as “Bidder 70″ and drove up the prices of the parcels, prosecutors claimed. His defense team countered that he did it to call attention to the issue of climate change.

Thousands of calls were made to the Bureau of Prisons by supporters of DeChristopher and he was taken out of solitary confinement and placed back in minimum security.

DeChristopher's group, Peaceful Uprising, didn't know which congressman filed that complaint. Members of the group pledged at a Thursday rally on the steps of the federal courthouse to find out, saying it concerned them that an "unnamed congressman" could wield so much power over any inmate in the federal prison system.

FOX 13 reached out to Utah's congressional delegation to see if they were the "unnamed congressman." Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Jim Matheson said no. Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee also denied the claims. Rep. Rob Bishop's spokeswoman told FOX 13 that she didn't know.