“In a Democracy Now! exclusive interview, we speak with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was jailed at a secretive prison known as a Communication Management Unit, or CMU. Stepanian is believed to be the first prisoner released from a CMU and will talk about his experience there for the first time. He was sentenced to three years along with six other activists for violating a controversial law known as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of CMUs.”
“Stepanian is believed to be the first inmate ever released from one of the secretive facilities; he is one of the SHAC 7, a group of animal rights activists convicted of ‘animal enterprise terrorism’ for running a controversial, and effective, website targeting an animal testing lab called Huntingdon Life Sciences.”
Stepanian’s lawyer, Paul Hetznecker, explains:
“He was convicted of the conspiracy to commit a violation of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. And specifically, what they allege was—and their theory of prosecution kind of changed—but what they alleged was that the website upon which information was disseminated about the movement, and particularly this political movement in targeting the Huntingdon Life Science Corporation, that those who essentially passed on communications to others or actually reflected communiques from others that were involved in the movement were involved in inciting others to commit crime.”
“And it harkens back a real dangerous, dangerous challenge to our First Amendment protections in this new frontier of the internet, where both the political expression and government repression are battling out in this new frontier. And it’s a very dangerous precedent, because the individuals that were convicted under the statute were not individuals that were shown to be involved in direct criminal conduct.”
For a full transcript, please visit: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/6/25/exclusive_animal_rights_activist_jailed_at
Clearly, as an animal rights blogger, I’m very interested in these things. I hope you are, too.