Animal Protection > ALF Foes

NEWARK, N.J. - The Web site run by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty offers undercover video of beagles being slapped, force-fed and otherwise manhandled, allegedly by workers at a research lab that uses animals to test the safety of drugs and chemicals.

Federal prosecutors say the site did more than present the darker side of animal testing: They allege it also incited violence against the testing company, Huntingdon Life Sciences, and its employees.

Both sides are facing off in a courtroom this week, in what the animal activists call an exercise in free speech and what the government portrays as domestic terrorism.

Six members of the Philadelphia-based group, which goes by the acronym SHAC, were arrested in May 2004 and charged with animal enterprise terrorism, conspiracy and interstate stalking, part of a plan to drive Huntingdon Life Sciences out of business.
"This is not activism," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said at the time of the arrests. "This is a group of lawless thugs attacking innocent men, women and children."

The group makes no apologies for its five-year campaign against the British-based Huntington, saying it kills 500 animals per day and vowing to shut it down. Criticizing the company's operations - and even applauding the illegal actions of others who lash out against it - is not against the law, said Andrea Lindsay, a spokeswoman for the group.

"Anything they can pin on the defendants is an act of free speech," she said. "The government contends it rises to the level of domestic terrorism. We say it's free speech."
The group says it never told anyone to break the law or commit illegal acts. A section of its Web site urging people to call Huntingdon and companies that deal with it "and ask them to justify their involvement in animal cruelty" includes a caution that "SHAC does not encourage repetitive, rude or threatening phone calls and e-mails. Make your point politely."



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