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AETA Prosecution Thrown Out

July 15, 2010

[Dissident Voice]

Police reports state that on October 21, 2007 a group of about twenty people trespassed onto the front lawn of the home of a Berkeley professor involved in bio-medical research on animals. According to the US government, some of the protestors had bandanas covering the lower half of their faces and they made “a lot of noise, chanting animal rights slogans” like “1,2,3,4, open up the cage door; 5,6,7,8, smash the locks and liberate, 9,10,11,12, vivisectors go to hell.”

A year and a half later, four young activists were indicted in California federal court under the little known and rarely used “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” (AETA) for their alleged involvement in this and others pickets.

The federal criminal indictment charged Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo (now the AETA 4) with one count of “animal enterprise terrorism,” and one count of conspiracy. They each face ten years in prison if convicted.
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Attacks by government on our human and civil rights are always first directed at people on the margins who do not have widespread popular support. Animal and environmental activists are the ones under attack today. Unless we stand up and vigorously protect their rights to dissent, others, including us, will be certainly be next.

Bill Quigley and Rachel Meeropol are human rights attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights. You can reach Bill at quigley77@gmail.com  and Rachel at rachelmeeropol@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Bill Quigley and Rachel Meeropol.

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full story:
http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/07/dissent-victory-for-animal-rights-activists/


July 11, 2010

From the Civil Liberties Defense Center

AETA Prosecution Thrown Out!

A California federal court judge has thrown out the first ever prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of the AETA 4 (Adriana Stumpo, Maryam Khjavi, Nathan Pope and Joseph Buddenberg). The AETA 4 were accused of picketing and handing out leaflets regarding animal experimenters--patently constitutionally protected activities. The court granted defendants' motions to dismiss on the basis that the indictment fails to allege the facts of the crimes charged with sufficient specificity to meet the requirements of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and Fed. R. Crim.P. 7(c)(1). The court granted the motion "without prejudice," meaning that the government may re-file the charges again if they so choose. But, for now, a victory for activists everywhere!


BREAKING- AETA 4 Case Dismissed, But Re-Indictment Possible
By Will Potter

U.S. District Court has thrown out the indictment of four animal rights activists who were charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, because the government did not clearly explain what, exactly, the protesters did.

When Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo were arrested in 2009, prosecutors said little other than that the group allegedly chalked slogans on the sidewalk, distributed fliers and attended protests. Later, when they were officially indicted, the government was still tight-lipped about how their non-violent, above-ground protests amounted to “terrorism.”

In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney Matthew Strugar led an effort to have the indictments dismissed. In short, they argued that the charges should be dropped because they seem to involve only protected First Amendment speech, but that in order to make that argument the defendants’ speech must be clearly identified…..

http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/breaking-aeta-4-case-dismissed-but-re-indictment-possible/


AETA 4 Case Dismissed, But Re-Indictment Possible Mon Jul 12 2010 Case of the AETA 4 Dismissed "Without Prejudice" The U.S. District Court in San Jose, CA, has thrown out the indictment of four animal rights activists who were charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, because the government did not clearly explain what, exactly, the protesters did.

When Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo were arrested in 2009, prosecutors said little other than that the group allegedly chalked slogans on the sidewalk, distributed fliers and attended protests. Later, when they were officially indicted, the government was still tight-lipped about how their non-violent, above-ground protests amounted to “terrorism.”

In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney Matthew Strugar led an effort to have the indictments dismissed. In short, they argued that the charges should be dropped because they seem to involve only protected First Amendment speech, but that in order to make that argument the defendants’ speech must be clearly identified.

The case is not over, however. The government can still re-indict the defendants with an amended bill of particulars that clearly outlines their alleged actions.

Support the AETA 4

A U.S. District Court has thrown out the indictment of four animal rights activists who were charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, because the government did not clearly explain what, exactly, the protesters did.

aeta_4.jpg
aeta_4.jpg

When Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo were arrested in 2009, prosecutors said little other than that the group allegedly chalked slogans on the sidewalk, distributed fliers and attended protests. Later, when they were officially indicted, the government was still tight-lipped about how their non-violent, above-ground protests amounted to “terrorism.”

In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney Matthew Strugar led an effort to have the indictments dismissed. In short, they argued that the charges should be dropped because they seem to involve only protected First Amendment speech, but that in order to make that argument the defendants’ speech must be clearly identified.

Here’s an excerpt from Judge Ronald M. Whyte’s ruling:

In order for an indictment to fulfill its constitutional purposes, it must allege facts that sufficiently inform each defendant of what it is that he or she is alleged to have done that constitutes a crime. This is particularly important where the species of behavior in question spans a wide spectrum from criminal conduct to constitutionally protected political protest. While “true threats” enjoy no First Amendment protection, picketing and political protest are at the very core of what is protected by the First Amendment. Where the defendants’ conduct falls on this spectrum in this case will very likely ultimately be decided by a jury. Before this case proceeds to a jury, however, the defendants are entitled to a more specific indictment setting forth their conduct alleged to be criminal. [emphasis added]

As background, a fierce campaign has been being waged in California against animal research at the University of California system. There has been a wide range of both legal and illegal tactics. Illegal tactics have included the destruction of UC vans, and an incendiary device was left at the home of a UC researcher.

The FBI and local law enforcement haven’t been able to catch the people responsible, though. They’ve only cracked down on the above-ground activists, like the AETA 4, who protest and create fliers.

The previous version of the law was used to convict the SHAC 7 for running a controversial website that posted news of both legal and illegal actions. This case, the first use of the new Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, was clearly an attempt to use this sweeping legislation even more broadly against First Amendment activity. This ruling sternly rebukes the government’s attempt to take activists to trial for “terrorism” without even explaining what they have done.

To be clear, though, this case is not over. The government can still re-indict the defendants with an amended bill of particulars that clearly outlines their alleged actions.

This is a victory worth celebrating, and it should also be inspiration for renewed organizing. Corporations and the politicians who represent them have been pushing this “eco-terrorism” and “animal enterprise terrorism” legislation for years, and they will not sit quietly as the flagship case of their pet scare-mongering law is tossed aside. If prosecutors choose to re-indict, it should be at their own peril; the animal rights and environmental movements must be ready to respond even more loudly, more forcefully, that activism is not terrorism.

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