Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > United States
Student Activist Indicted, Released

From the website . December 1, 2009

This is an update and message to all concerned scholars regarding the case
of our colleague Scott DeMuth.

Scott is currently out of jail, back in school, and awaiting trial. We are
mounting a support campaign from the academic community and the general
public so that he will have the resources necessary for a solid defense.


On November 17, 2009, Scott DeMuth was jailed for contempt of court, since
he refused to answer questions posed to him by a federal grand jury in
Davenport, Iowa. They were interested in questioning him about his knowledge
of an unsolved Animal Liberation Front action in 2004 at the University of
Iowa. At the time, Scott was only 17 years old and was a resident of the
Twin Cities (Minnesota). Scott is a University of Minnesota graduate student
and Dakota language student whose research focuses on liberation struggles
and social movements in the U.S. and globally.' In his work, he has
researched and/or interviewed numerous activists from Native American
struggles for sovereignty and land, and environmental and animal liberation
movements in the U.S. The grand jury was interested in asking him to divulge
the names of activists, which would violate the confidentiality agreements
that he made with his research participants.

Scott took a principled stand against the grand jury's fishing expedition,
and instead decided to go to jail rather than be party to what many
attorneys and the American Bar Association (ABA) view as a dangerous
practice that deprives people of basic constitutional freedoms. But it gets
worse. Two days later (November 19, 2009) Scott was charged with conspiracy
under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) of 2006. This indictment
came just one day before the statute of limitations was to expire and was
rushed through to freeze the statute of limitations, with the intent of
buying the state time to issue additional future indictments. These legal
maneuvers are indicative of an investigation that has gone nowhere, and
prosecutors who are desperate to locate members of the Animal Liberation
Front, no matter what legal acrobatics are required.


The federal grand jury is a legal proceeding used to investigate possible
organized criminal activity rather than a specific crime. It is held in
secrecy, and does not grant rights to representation or the right to obtain
transcripts of the proceedings to those subpoenaed: those served with a
subpoena face only a federal prosecutor and 16-23 jurors who are not
screened for bias. Federal grand juries are used not to prove guilt, but to
coercively extract evidence without due process from third parties under
threat of imprisonment. They have a history of being used to intimidate and
suppress movements for social change.


The American Sociological Association's Code of Ethics states:
Section 11.01:
"Sociologists have an obligation to protect confidential information and not
allow information gained in confidence from being used in ways that would
unfairly compromise research participants, students, employees, clients, or
Section 11.06:
"Sociologists do not disclose confidential, personally identifiable
information concerning their research participants, other recipients of
their service which is obtained during the course of their work."

This scholar-research participant confidentiality is the bedrock of academic research and without it the public would lose trust in scholars seeking important information (concerning, for example, social histories or institutional discrimination practices), leading to the incalculable loss of invaluable data for community preservation, public policy, and university teaching purposes. Scott is being charged with conspiracy for invoking his constitutional rights and heeding to professional codes of conduct.


More than 160 non-governmental organizations opposed the passage of the AETA. The opposition includes such influential groups as the National Lawyers Guild, American Civil Liberties Union (belatedly), New York City Bar Association and other bar associations, Natural Resources Defense Council, Humane Society of the U.S., and American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Problems with AETA:
- is excessively broad and vague and imposes disproportionately harsh penalties
- brands animal advocates as "terrorists" and denies them equal protection under the law
- brands civil disobedience as "terrorism" and imposes severe penalties
- has a chilling effect on all forms of protest by endangering free speech and assembly
- interferes with investigation of federal law violations by animal enterprises
- detracts from prosecution of real terrorism against the American people

For more information on AETA, visit

In the meantime, here's what you can do:

Contact David Pellow at  for more information or to send
statements of support.

Please send polite letters to the following individuals requesting that they
work to dismiss all charges against Scott, protect academic freedom and
integrity, and denounce the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act:

U.S. District Judge John A. Jarvey
United States Courthouse
131 East 4th Street
Davenport, Iowa 52801

U.S. Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt
United States Courthouse
131 East 4th Street
Davenport, Iowa 52801

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cliff Cronk
United States Courthouse�-
131 East 4th Street
Davenport, Iowa 52801

Representative Keith Ellison-
2100 Plymouth Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411


Student activist indicted, released
A federal judge in Iowa ordered the release of indicted University of Minnesota graduate student Scott Demuth on Monday.

Published: 12/01/2009

Against FBI recommendations, a federal judge in Iowa ordered the release of indicted University of Minnesota graduate student Scott Demuth on Monday.

The indictment came Nov. 18 after a grand jury in Davenport, Iowa subpoenaed DeMuth and fellow activist Carrie Feldman in relation to vandalism at the University of Iowa in 2004. The group Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for breaking into the University of Iowa's psychology department, doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and destroying research, as well as freeing rats and mice, according to the group's Web site.

The group Earth Warriors are OK!, which advocates for political prisoners, including DeMuth, believes the judge made the correct choice.

'What the government was arguing was completely spurious, and I think the judge recognized that,' group member Natalia Shulkin said.

The FBI supplied evidence allegedly linking DeMuth to the vandalism, including a lock pick and a journal found during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

According to the release order, DeMuth can engage in graduate study at the University but must wear a GPS device, turn in his passport and any firearms permits and must report to a probation office weekly, among other sanctions.

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