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Animal rights activists jailed

Seven animal rights activists who blackmailed companies that supplied linkurl:Huntingdon Life Sciences,;http://www.huntingdon.com/ an animal testing laboratory based in the UK, were sentenced today (Jan. 21) to between four and 11 years in prison. From 2001 to 2007, members of the linkurl:Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty;http://www.shac.net/ (SHAC) group used inflammatory graffiti, false allegations of pedophilia, and bomb hoaxes to intimidate managers and staff with links to the Cambridge-based

By | January 21, 2009

Seven animal rights activists who blackmailed companies that supplied linkurl:Huntingdon Life Sciences,;http://www.huntingdon.com/ an animal testing laboratory based in the UK, were sentenced today (Jan. 21) to between four and 11 years in prison. From 2001 to 2007, members of the linkurl:Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty;http://www.shac.net/ (SHAC) group used inflammatory graffiti, false allegations of pedophilia, and bomb hoaxes to intimidate managers and staff with links to the Cambridge-based company.
linkurl:Last month,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55320/ the seven activists -- who were described by the sentencing judge as "urban terrorists" -- were found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail. Heather Nicholson, 41, a founding member of SHAC, was sentenced today to 11 years in prison, while co-founders Gregg and Natasha Avery, 41 and 39 respectively, each received nine-year sentences. Four other leading members of SHAC were handed jail terms of between four and eight years. Another defendant, Trevor Holmes, 51, was cleared of the charges. While passing the sentence, Judge Neil Butterfield described the campaign as a "relentless, sustained and merciless persecution" that had made the victims lives "a living hell," according to the__ linkurl:BBC.;http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/7837064.stm __"I expect you will be seen by some as martyrs for a noble cause but that would be misplaced," Butterfield told the defendants. "You are not going to prison for expressing your beliefs, you are going to prison because you have committed a serious criminal offence."
**__Related stories:__***UK activists guilty of blackmail
[23rd December 2008]*linkurl:The war on animal research;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54494/
[April 2008]*linkurl:Animal rights activists found guilty;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23185/
[3rd March 2006] __Image: flickr/pmark__
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Comments

Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

January 21, 2009

In the USA, it is considered a "victory" that animal rights activists cannot so much as leaflet or speak on university grounds. After this, we have had bombs, quite a few of them. In response, web sites that speak about any professor are illegal. \n\nThis spiral of marginalization and radicalization is just making things worse. Who do we think we are, depriving them of so much as a voice, anywhere? \n\nIn Holland, working with animals, researchers have 1 week of a 3 week class taught by the animal rights activists. No violence there. So researchers have to see a different point of view pitched to them - so what? It doesn't melt researcher eyeballs in Holland to do that. \n\nBack when animal rights people had a voice that could be heard through peaceful protest, they weren't bombing us. Won't be long, and nobody in research will remember there ever was a more peaceable time. \n\nAnimal rights activists have penetrated our research facilities and taken movies of facilities. We haven't liked that. But you know what? Some researchers lie about conditions. Universities are rife with lies, professors have near dictatorial powers, and experiments with animals are expensive. \n\nWhen are we going to get reportage on the Dutch model, the inclusive model? I know that "Law and Order" and bombs are much more exciting, but is it science reporting? \n\nDo I feel satisfaction that these good hearted people went to prison? No. I feel shame that we have marginalized them so much that they felt they had no choice but to turn to crime. I do wonder sometimes who the sociopaths are in these scenarios. Is it the extremely empathetic people who can't bear suffering in animals? Or is it the scientists who coldly set up experiments on them? Ask a psychiatrist and you won't get the answer you like. \n\nI know what my answer is to the above question when the animal experiments are "just killing monkeys to get grant money." Let us not lie to each other about that little secret either.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 35

January 21, 2009

Ellen, some simple web searches for "Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals" turn up lists of a wide range of campus organizations. Although some parochial universities still take an obstructionist view toward nearly all campus activism dating back nearly half a century, I am not convinced that there is any very effective or systematic suppression of your cause.\n\nI think that animal rights groups pick on the weak. They burn down labs that use mice for cancer research, but not factories that build mousetraps. They target high-end fur stores, but ignore the leather shoes at every market. They target people who shoot pigeons, but not people who eat fried chicken. They outlaw horse meat but not pig meat. Wherever there is a group of people separated from the herd, doing something that isn't done by everyone else, that's where they strike. They call themselves anarchists, but their only interest is to impose one single law by force, and that law is conformity.\n\nTo outsiders it might sound like a small sacrifice to make some scientists listen to some animal rights people for a few sessions. No doubt even more people in America would approve of forcing evolutionary biologists to hear a week or two of scriptural instruction on the Book of Genesis. Another group might address green activism, or chemical contamination of the environment, or the value of embryonic human life, or the evils of generating inventions for the military industrial complex. There are many other causes that can bring a person to the podium.\n\nBy saying that scientists should be forced to listen to animal rights believers in particular, what you are really demanding is that the government pick out that cause and elevate it to a state-sanctioned political position. But promoting one point of view is fundamentally against the principles of democratic free speech which you yourself invoke.
Avatar of: S M

S M

Posts: 2

January 21, 2009

Do stories hear undergo any sort of editing? This story is biased and doesn't meet even loose criteria for a news article. It reads more like a propaganda piece for Huntingdon. You haven't given us the other side of the story. What is the position of the animal rights activists? Why were they willing to risk their freedom? You've given us no information on what the animal rights activists specifically they objected to or even any hint about the types of things animals are subjected to. You've apparently made no attempt at all to contact them or any of the other advocacy groups. \n\nIt's shoddy journalism at best. I hope you'll strive to do better on an issue that's as important and significant as this one. After all, if it's not worth your time to present a well-researched piece, then why should it be worth my time to read it?\n\n
Avatar of: Michael Zimmer

Michael Zimmer

Posts: 11

January 21, 2009

There is nothing wrong with this new report. It clearly shows that terrorists in our community will not be tolerated whatever their cause.\n\nA good reason for not mentioning "good" animal rights activism in this column is because this isn't about that. They are two completely different topics.\n\nAnd Ellen, please try to be less dramatic. There are no researchers anywhere that "kill monkeys for grant money" and for grant money alone (And if there were, I'd be more worried about the grant provider who demands more monkeys be killed). This disney-esque portrayal of good and evil in science serves no purpose in promulgating productive discussion.
Avatar of: S Denham

S Denham

Posts: 4

January 21, 2009

I too found this piece disappointing, what is being completely overlooked / ignored is that these defendants were charged with Conspiracy to blackmail not the actual criminal acts which were commtted by persons unknown - those persons unknown are still free, hardly any victory or comfort to those portrayed as the victims of the crimal acts.\n\nSo what exactly was the purpose of spending millions of taxpayers' money prosecuting these defendants, and spending further money keeping them in prison for years?
Avatar of: Paul Browne

Paul Browne

Posts: 38

January 22, 2009

A good article!\n\nWhat some people commenting here seem to forget is that the SHAC organizers jailed yesterday organized and directed the campaign of blackmail. Without their encouragement and the information they provided the people who actually carried out the attacks on the targets that the SHAC members identified would not have been able to do so.\n\nThe SHAC website used to give out personal details about targets, along with "Top ten terror tips" and other suggestions that made SHAC's real intentions very clear. The evidence uncovered by the police during their investigation showed that this wasn't just empty talk.\n\nConspiracy to blackmail is a serious offence carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years, and in this case scores of individuals were subjected to very nasty attacks so it's not surprising that the sentences for the leaders of SHAC were harsh.\n\nTo say they are innocent and that their imprisonment is a bit like excusing a Mafia don of murder because he didn't actually pull the trigger, but mearly mentioned that somebody should be dealt with.\n\nI hope this marks the end, of animal rights extremism in the UK, thoughI'm not terribly optimistic. Saying that the crackdown on AR activists does seem to have dissuaded others such as anti-abortion fanatics from adopting similar tactics.\n\nIt's now the time for those involved in animal research, and those not directly involved but whose work none the less relies on animal research undertaken by others, to make the case for animal research more strongly to the public, and not just within the scientific community. \n\nhttp://www.speakingofresearch.org/\n
Avatar of: S Denham

S Denham

Posts: 4

January 22, 2009

"to make the case for animal research more strongly to the public"\n\nWhat, though, is that case? The public deserves a lot better from those involved in animal research than being emotionally blackmailed, having genetics dumbed down to the point of lies and ad hom attacks on opponents. \n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 23, 2009

Walk into a general store and you see rat poison and traps designed to snap the necks of mice and rats. Then walk back to your animal facility and find out that you are in trouble because you put five mice in a cage that is supposed to hold four.\n\nWe have some seriously mixed up priorities.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 23, 2009

This is a clear case of propaganda and misinformation being spoonfed to\nthe public in order to protect the interests of the rich pharmaceutical\nbigshots who are in bed with the government.\n\nSHAC, regardless of what the media tries to say, conducts only peaceful\nand legal demonstrations (protests) against companies involved with\nHuntingdon Life Sciences. Social justice movements throughout history\nhave all used the same "tactics" of continuous protest and economic\ndisruption.\n\nWould one call the lunch counter protests of the United States civil\nrights movement "terrorism?" Of course not, but under today's draconian\ngovernment repression against activsts in the UK and USA, those same\npeople could easily be labeled "terrorists."\n\nShame nobody realises that once civil liberties are stripped from one\ngroup of people (animal activists) that it sets a dangerous precedent for\nthe rest of us\n\nThe real terrorists are the monsters inside HLS who brutalize animals for\nprofit.\n\n
Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 23

January 23, 2009

I appreciate the news update. I saw nothing here as propaganda. It was accurate, precise reporting.\n\nRegarding those who wished to draw any sort of propaganda into the commentary, please, get the real facts from those other than the animal rightist propaganda factories. As far as spouting "social justice" as in a previous post, the issue has already been settled, with enough laws at every level of government to choke a horse.\n\nFor ethical, moral, legal, and scientific reasons, animals are not "brutalized" in scientific experimentation as thought by one in a previous post. Plainly, it would simply be bad business.\n\nRegarding any stripped "civil liberties" decried from a previous post, I personally would not call blackmail a liberty. Lunch counter protests did not land people in jail for eleven years.\n\nIn the end, the facts speak for themselves. Based on the last several decades since the Animal Welfare Act went in law, it may be concluded on the mountains of true evidence that animal research is good, valuable, moral, and it works.
Avatar of: Dana Dallabetta

Dana Dallabetta

Posts: 1

January 23, 2009

Let?s be real here. Huntingdon Life Sciences is not working on the miracle cure for cancer. They are mostly testing things like suntan location, caramel coloring and other household products. In fact over 12,000 animals including primates and beagle puppies were killed to test Splenda. The suffering these animals endure is beyond comprehension. The sit in their cold cages scared and alone until the human comes to overdose them with the chemical. They are put back in their cages and some lay in their own vomit and excrement until the next dosing. Then finally they are killed. Other experiments require them to be burned in their eyes or skin or have their limbs broken or inhale toxic gases until they die. The restrained bunnies break their own backs and necks to try to get away from the searing pain when their eyes are dosed with chemicals. It?s just horrible. \nEven if the testing is for a new drug do we really need a new medicine that works the same as something already on the market, but only needs to be taken every 12 hours instead of every 4? Do animals need to suffer and die for someone to make more money? I think these SHAC people are compassionate people. They would not do the things they did for these animals if there was not pain in their hearts for them. I wish more human beings were like them.\n
Avatar of: S Denham

S Denham

Posts: 4

January 23, 2009

I still eagerly await a reply as to any case 'for'.\n\nIn the meantime, re the trial, the public has heard many allegations made by the prosecution but nothing at all said by the defence - is that what passes for balanced, unbiased reporting these days?\n\nInteresting that the same level of media coverage wasn't given to Uncaged Campaigns 'Diaries of Depair' report which revealed over 500 breaches of GLP inside Huntingdon Life Sciences, illegal experiments on primates, government collusion and cover-up and much more.\n\nIn the interests of fairness and to put the issue into context people can visit www.xenodiaries.org to view the documents and see for themselves.

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