[Ppnews] Minn Activist Says He's No Threat
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 3 19:44:03 EST 2009
Dec 3, 2009 5:49 pm US/Central
Minn. Animal Terrorism (sic) Suspect Says He's No Threat
PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Two weeks after the federal
government charged him with terrorism for an
alleged attack on a University of Iowa animal
research lab, Scott DeMuth was back home in
Minneapolis making plans to return to his
sociology classes, visit his grandparents and get back to a regular routine.
Under the terms of his release, the 22-year-old
DeMuth must stay close to home. The man that an
assistant U.S. attorney dubbed a "domestic
terrorist" is confined only by an ankle monitoring bracelet.
"It's a little inconvenient," DeMuth told The
Associated Press Wednesday, in his first interview since being charged.
Last month, the U.S. Attorney's office in Iowa's
southern district charged DeMuth with one count
of conspiring to commit animal enterprise
terrorism. Prosecutors say he played an
unspecified role in the November 2004 raid on
Spence Laboratories at the University of Iowa,
where animal rights activists released more than
300 animals, dumped chemicals on data, damaged
about 40 computers and publicized the home addresses of several researchers.
He faces three years in prison or a $250,000
fine, or both if he is convicted of the charges
under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act.
One other person, Carrie Feldman, has been
detained in connection with an investigation into
the raid, although she has not been charged.
DeMuth says Feldman used to be his girlfriend.
A self-described anarchist, DeMuth denies he was
involved in the raid at all and has vowed to
fight the charges at a trial. He says he has
never been an animal rights activist and believes
he has been targeted because he has got to know
some underground animal rights activists and holds unpopular political views.
"I'm not a threat to the community," DeMuth said,
adding that his own views on animal rights don't
prevent him from eating meat or bow-hunting. "I
was 17 and in high school at the time" of the raid, he said.
Mike Bladel, spokesman for the U.S. attorney in
Iowa, would not comment on the charges since the
case is active. Prosecutors moved to keep DeMuth
in jail, but U.S. District Court Judge John
Jarvey in Davenport ordered his release pending
trial, saying the government failed to
demonstrate he's a public danger or flight risk.
DeMuth is a member of EWOK! "Earth Warriors Are
OK!" a Minneapolis group whose members describe
themselves as advocates for animal rights and
environmental activists facing criminal charges.
DeMuth says he is motivated by a belief that the
federal government is using the courts to squash unpopular political dissent.
His supporters believe the break-in warrants
charges against vandalism, property damage and theft, but not terrorism.
University of Iowa officials disagree.
At a U.S. Senate hearing in 2005, the
university's then-president, David Skorton,
declared the raid an act of terrorism.
Damage was estimated at $500,000 for the break-in
at Spence Laboratories, the research facility for
the school's Department of Psychology. Several
professors saw their home addresses, names of
family members and other personal information
posted online, which many saw as an incitement
for other activists to come after them.
A spokesman for the school, Tom Moore, said some
of the faculty members felt terrorized by the 2004 raid.
"They were very concerned for their own safety,
their families' safety," Moore said.
DeMuth's interest as a researcher and activist
has centered around the history and rights of
Dakota Indians, and underground social movements.
In 2008, he was living in a home with other
anarchists that authorities raided just before
the Republican National Convention. Several
personal items seized from DeMuth have turned up as evidence against him.
DeMuth believes federal investigators want
details about underground activists he knows
information he said is protected by academic freedom.
"I'm more than excited to take this to trial,"
DeMuth said. "As someone who's involved with
movements for justice, it seems like I have a duty to fight this thing."
(© 2009 The Associated Press. All Rights
Reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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