Govt settles anthrax suit

A former US army biodefense researcher who was a "person of interest" in the still-unsolved case of the 2001 anthrax letters and who sued the government, claiming the investigation ruined his reputation, will receive a $5.8 million settlement from the Justice Department. The FBI turned its attention on the researcher, linkurl:Steven J. Hatfill,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/20669/ in 2002 as part of its investigation of the mysterious anthrax case that caused the death of five p

Alla Katsnelson
Jun 29, 2008
A former US army biodefense researcher who was a "person of interest" in the still-unsolved case of the 2001 anthrax letters and who sued the government, claiming the investigation ruined his reputation, will receive a $5.8 million settlement from the Justice Department. The FBI turned its attention on the researcher, linkurl:Steven J. Hatfill,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/20669/ in 2002 as part of its investigation of the mysterious anthrax case that caused the death of five people in 2001 and 2002. The FBI's search of Hatfill's home was covered heavily by the media, and he was named a "person of interest" in the case on national television by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, presumably because of his past work on bioterrorism. Hatfill, who trained in Zimbabwe as a physician, became an expert in bioterror pathogens as researcher at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, in Fort Detrick, Md. Some aspects of his...
nt, claiming the investigation ruined his reputation, will receive a $5.8 million settlement from the Justice Department. The FBI turned its attention on the researcher, linkurl:Steven J. Hatfill,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/20669/ in 2002 as part of its investigation of the mysterious anthrax case that caused the death of five people in 2001 and 2002. The FBI's search of Hatfill's home was covered heavily by the media, and he was named a "person of interest" in the case on national television by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, presumably because of his past work on bioterrorism. Hatfill, who trained in Zimbabwe as a physician, became an expert in bioterror pathogens as researcher at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, in Fort Detrick, Md. Some aspects of his credentials, such as a doctorate he claimed to have obtained in South Africa, were later revealed to have been untrue. Hatfill sued the government in 2003, alleging that FBI agents and justice department officials involved in the case had leaked information about him to the media, which violated the Privacy Act and led to unproven speculation about him that tarnished his reputation and ruined his career. He also filed suit against several media companies, including the New York Times, and subpoenaed several reporters to reveal anonymous sources they had quoted with information about him. Under the terms of the current settlement, Hatfill will receive $2.825 million in cash, and an annuity of $150,000 a year for 20 years. The Justice Department denies liability, but said that the settlement was "in the best interest of the United States," according to the linkurl: Times.;http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/28/washington/28hatfill.html?_r=1&oref=slogin The settlement does not affect Hatfill's suits against media companies, some of which are still pending. The suit against the New York Times was dismissed last year, but Hatfield has appealed the dismissal, according to the Times. A USA reporter who was ruled in contempt of court for refusing to reveal her sources and fined $5000 per day until she did so has appealed the ruling. Meanwhile, the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks continues. An F.B.I. spokesman told the Times that it is "one of the largest and most complex investigations ever conducted by law enforcement," with 20 government agents involved.

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