Web Date: February 24, 2009
Animal Rights Extremists Arrested
After months of intense federal, state, and local investigation, four animal rights extremists have been arrested in connection with a series of harassing incidents directed toward University of California researchers.
The four are accused of making threats against scientists whose work involves animal research and of staging protests outside their homes. They are not, however, being charged with involvement in the most violent of the recent attacks—the firebombings of a house and a car in Santa Cruz last August (C&EN, Aug. 11, 2008, page 11).
On February 20, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Adriana Stumpo, 23; Nathan Pope, 26; Joseph Buddenberg, 25; and Maryam Khajavi, 20, all of California, saying their protests violated the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Stumpo and Khajavi are former UCSC students.
University of California officials lauded the arrests. "Our students, staff, and faculty...deserve to work and live in a safe environment, without fear that they and their families will be targets of violent actions and threats," Stephen E. Thorsett, dean of physical and biological sciences at UCSC, said in a statement.
"We hope the arrest of these suspects will send a clear and powerful signal to extremists who continue to engage in dangerous and illegal actions against UC researchers who seek only to advance knowledge and understanding," said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogoluf.
Evidence links the four to several demonstrations outside the homes of UC Berkeley and Santa Cruz researchers during the past year and a half, including one attempt to break into a researcher's home. Pope and Stumpo have also been linked to the distribution of threatening fliers listing names, addresses, and telephone numbers of UC scientists, including UCSC chemistry professor Pradip K. Mascharak—although his research focuses on NO-releasing compounds and does not involve animal testing. The fliers were found at Café Pergolesi in Santa Cruz, two weeks before the firebombings.
FBI special agent Joseph M. Schadler declined to comment on whether the four have been linked to the firebombings and whether the investigation is focused on other activists. Stumpo and Pope, who were arrested in Charlotte, N.C., as they returned from a trip to Costa Rica, will be extradited to California. Buddenberg and Khajavi were arrested in the Bay Area and were released on bond.
If convicted, they face up to five years in prison.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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