March 2, 2006

Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) Activists Convicted in Federal Court of Violating Animal Enterprise Protection Act

For Their Efforts to Close Cruel Laboratory, Six Campaigners Each Face From 1 to 6 Years in Prison

Trenton, NJ: A jury today returned guilty verdicts for six activists who have tirelessly campaigned against the cruelty at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a product-testing facility that kills 500 animals daily testing pesticides, household products, and pharmaceuticals. Five undercover investigations at the lab have documented such abuse by employees as punching four-month-old puppies in the face, simulating sex with animals, and dissecting a still-living non-human primate.

Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazzola, Jake Conroy, Joshua Harper , Darius Fullmer, and Andrew Stepanian will be sentenced on June 7 by Judge Anne Thompson. They are facing from one to six years each for up to six separate charges claiming that they conspired to shutter HLS-- the unethical company which has been brought to near-bankruptcy during a global campaign waged by animal rights activists enraged at the suffering uncovered within its walls.

With a sinister message intended for all activists around the country striving for social justice, the US government-- via its lead prosecutor, Charles B. McKenna, a sympathetic Judge Thompson and twelve ignorant jurors-- have now succeeded in criminalizing heretofore legal means of protest. Press Officer Lindy Greene commented immediately after the verdict: "Despite the government's shortsighted strategy of targeting effective but legal activism, activists around the world will continue to expose and fight to stop the atrocities at Huntingdon Labs. There is just absolutely no way HLS will be allowed to continue torturing these beautiful, innocent creatures behind closed doors."

Camille Hankins, a New York activists with Win Animal Rights stated: "The verdicts today in Federal Court truly were the result of a conspiracy-- a conspiracy between those who torture animals at Huntingdon Life Sciences like Brian Cass, Mark Bibi, Andrew Baker and their henchmen--and the US Government which panders to businesses who can afford to line their pockets with campaign donations and expensive gifts. Abridging activists' right to free speech will not prolong for one minute the lifespan of HLS, whose moral bankruptcy will result in their eventual financial ruin."

The verdicts are widely expected to be appealed. Five of the six defendants were taken immediately into custody pending posting of a bond, but are expected to be released soon.

In a related development, anonymous activists announced the launch of a new website, www.hlscustomers.org containing 2,000 home addresses from executives of HLS's top 30 customers.

Contact the North American Animal Liberation Press Office:
press@animalliberationpressoffice.org
(818) 932-9997