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Experts fear extremists may be travelling from Britain

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Experts fear extremists may be travelling from Britain.


A rash of vandalism, intimidation and arson across continental Europe in 2008 is evidence of a worrying new wave of animal-rights extremism being exported from Britain, experts say.

In early January, threats led to a Dutch developer withdrawing from a new, �60 million (about US$89 million) biomedical research park in Venray, the Netherlands. A month later, Hasselt University's Biomedical Research Institute in Diepenbeek, Belgium, was set on fire.

And in Barcelona in Spain, vandals targeted the offices of biomedical-research firm Novartis.

The pattern "is quite clear-cut", according to Simon Festing, director of the Research Defence Society, a London-based group representing medical researchers. Festing says that he believes new, more stringent enforcement in the United Kingdom has led many extremists to move their activities overseas. "Activists are not finding it easy here," he says. "So they're just going across to Europe."


Janssen says that in the Netherlands at least, the government now appears to be taking animal-rights extremism more seriously. On 12 February, the Dutch parliament passed a motion to support the use of animal testing and condemning extremist acts. Janssen says that he hopes the motion will be followed by more rigorous law-enforcement.


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