[Ppnews] Undercover informant used in ecoterrorism investigation
Political Prisoner News
PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 14 08:56:55 EST 2005
Undercover informant used in ecoterrorism investigation
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) -- An undercover informant helped
investigators tape a conversation with one of the seven alleged
radical environmentalists accused in a series of arson attacks and
other crimes in the Pacific Northwest between 1998 and 2001.
Existence of the informant was disclosed last week by an investigator
in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., during a bail hearing for
Daniel McGowan, 31, who faces indictments that he and another man
firebombed the office of a wood products mill in Glendale and the
office and truck shop of a tree farm in Clatskanie in 2001.
The Earth Liberation Front, an underground group that advocates
economic sabotage to stop environmental destruction, took credit for
the two fires. The FBI describes the group as one of the nation's
leading domestic terrorist organizations.
Though his family offered to put up their homes and stocks worth
about $850,000, McGowan was ordered held without bail pending
transport by U.S. Marshals to Oregon, said defense attorney Martin
Stolar. No date has been set for McGowan's arraignment in Eugene.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer, who attended the hearing,
said Eugene police Detective Greg Harvey testified he made the tape
from a body wire worn by an informant who talked to McGowan at a
convention in New York in April 2005. On the tape, McGowan talks
about going to British Columbia in 2001. The tape was not played in
court, but the judge listened to excerpts before deciding against
Peifer characterized the trip as hiding out after the arsons, both of
which occurred earlier that year.
Stolar and McGowan's sister, Lisa McGowan, the vice president of a
packaging company in New York, characterized the trip as a visit to a
couple of friends and their new baby outside Vancouver, B.C.
He crossed the border using his own passport and his family knew
where he was, his sister said. He later went back to Eugene for
awhile before moving to New York in 2001.
"If anybody was looking for him, Danny was not a hard person to
find," Lisa McGowan said.
He took part in protests during the Republican National Convention in
New York in 2004, was included, under an assumed name, in a Rolling
Stone article on those protests, and was working for the Women's Law
Initiative in Brooklyn, which helps abused women, at the time of his
arrest, his sister said.
Lisa McGowan said her brother knew the person wearing the hidden
microphone from his days as a political activist in Eugene, where he
had lived a few years before moving back to New York four years ago.
"From what I understand, my brother states the atmosphere in Eugene
was very tough to live in at that time," for political activists, she said.
In late 1999, a number of anarchists from Eugene had taken part in
riots against the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle, and
authorities were clamping down. Anarchists also clashed with police in Eugene.
"My brother does not state he was involved in any of these things. He
did not state he was running from anybody. Just that he was laying
low because the atmosphere was very tough in Eugene at that time,"
Lisa McGowan said. "They wanted Danny to say he was involved. Danny
didn't say that."
Lisa McGowan said her brother worked in a cafe frequented by
political activists while living in Eugene, and was regularly
confronted by police who knew him by name, often while he was riding
"Being an activist doesn't mean you are a criminal," Lisa McGowan
said. "My brother has his beliefs. We are proud of the things he fights for.
"The weird thing was if Danny was asked to come in for questions he
would have shown up and answered any questions," she said. "But he
wasn't. They burst into his job. He works for a law firm -- not for
profit -- that helps abused women. They kind of burst open the door,
cuffed him and took him."
The youngest of five children of a retired New York City transit
police patrolman and a housewife, McGowan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.,
but grew up in Rockaway Beach, Queens, N.Y., where he ran track at
Christ the King High School, Lisa McGowan said.
He graduated from State University of New York at Buffalo with
degrees in history and business, and traveled after college to
Thailand. Later he lived in San Francisco, then Eugene, before moving
back to New York City, where he lives in the East Village.
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