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News Index > Apr-Sept '06 > Sept 2006
Conspiracy to Incite Vandalism


Opponents of animal testing lab, including LI man, receiving sentences for conspiracy to incite vandalism

[from Newsday]

The Meadowbrook Golf Club in Jericho was trashed in 2002, its greens torn up and one of them gouged with the words "a pup-killer wuz hea" because an insurance executive was scheduled to play there.
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Six people were convicted in March of conspiring to incite vandalism and harassment in connection with those incidents, which allegedly were part of an animal rights campaign. Four already have been sentenced, and the two others - Darius Fullmer of New Jersey and Andrew Stepanian, 26, of Huntington, one of Long Island's most prominent animal-rights activists - are to be sentenced in federal court in Trenton, N.J., today.

Stepanian and his associates were not convicted of committing these acts. Rather, they were convicted of conspiracy for running an organization - Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, or SHAC - whose Web site campaigned to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences by encouraging illegal acts, such as disruption and vandalism.

Huntingdon is one of the world's largest companies specializing in using animals to test the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals. It has long been a target of animal-rights activists who say it treats animals cruelly. Animal-rights activists in Britain, where the company was founded, forced the company to move much of its activities to New Jersey in 2002.

Stepanian was the New York coordinator for the Philadelphia-based SHAC, according to federal charges.
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"I'm confident I will win on appeal," Stepanian said in a telephone interview yesterday from his Long Island home. Stepanian emphasized that he had not been accused of committing any of the acts of violence or harassment, and was, he believes, exercising his constitutional right of free speech.

Andrew Erba of Philadelphia, a lawyer for SHAC, agreed, saying the appeal will test the nature of free speech and speech on the Web, noting there was "a lack of an immediate nexus ... an immediate link between words and action."

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full story:
http://www.newsday.com/business/ny-bzstep194897507sep19,0,7874556.story?coll=ny-business-print
 

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