Nobel Laureates declare support for Butler

As plague researcher's trial begins, leading US scientists condemn the case itself and its chilling effect

John Dudley Miller(johmiller@nasw.org)
Nov 4, 2003

Four American Nobel Laureates have come out in support of Thomas Butler, the Texas Tech University professor whose trial for an assortment of charges involving his handling of plague samples began this week in Lubbock, Texas.

In a statement released Monday night (November 3), Peter Agre, Sidney Altman, Robert Curl, and Torston Wiesel wrote that the Justice Department's determination to send Butler to jail sends a strong message to the scientific community "that those scientists most involved in bioterrorism-related research are most likely to be victims of punitive attacks at the hands of federal authorities."

The group predicted that this message will intimidate "precisely the scientists we need most in this effort of high national priority," and they urged the prosecution and defense to agree to a plea bargain that does not include prison time.

"I think the four of us all feel just adamantly that this is turning out...

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