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Anthrax 'person of interest' sues FBI

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 27, 2003

WASHINGTON - Former Army scientist Steven Hatfill sued Attorney General John Ashcroft and the FBI Tuesday, alleging that the nation's top law enforcement officials have violated his privacy and ruined his chances of getting a job by insinuating publicly that he was behind the deadly anthrax-laced mailings.

The federal lawsuit accuses Ashcroft and the FBI of conducting a "coordinated smear campaign" dating to August 2002, when Ashcroft described Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the FBI's anthrax investigation. Authorities have not publicly identified Hatfill as a suspect in the anthrax-spore mailings, which killed five people and sickened 17 others in late 2001.

The harassment has continued for a year as federal authorities have followed Hatfill in his daily activities, wiretapped his telephone, demanded that he be fired from a university job, and leaked information to the media about searches of his former apartment and a pond in the Frederick, Md., area near his former office, the suit contends.

The motive, the suit argues, is to give the false appearance that the FBI is making progress in catching the people responsible for circulating weapons-grade anthrax through the postal system in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Calif. AFL-CIO supports Bustamante option

LOS ANGELES - The powerful California AFL-CIO voted Tuesday to endorse Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante for governor in case Gov. Gray Davis is ousted in the Oct. 7 recall election.

Organized labor has long been a part of Davis' core constituency and the labor federation had already come out against the recall itself, but it threw its support behind Bustamante as a fall-back position. The results were revealed by delegates leaving a meeting.

Demonstrators back Ala. monument march

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Protesters hoping to keep a Ten Commandments monument in the state judicial building marched on Attorney General Bill Pryor's office Tuesday, demanding he resign for abiding by a federal court order for the marker's removal.

About 150 monument supporters marched from the judicial building to the statehouse to meet with Pryor, but were met by 10 state police blocking the door. Seven representatives were allowed inside to meet with Pryor's chief deputy for about 20 minutes.

The rest of the group remained outside, chanting, "Resign now! Resign now!"

Elsewhere . . .

MINK RELEASE: An animal rights group has claimed responsibility for releasing about 10,000 mink from a fur farm near Seattle. The animals escaped Monday, and all but about 1,000 had been captured later in the day, said farm owner Brad Roesler. Activists claiming to be part of the Animal Liberation Front, a radical animal rights group, took credit for the release.

COMMUTER PLANE CRASHES: A commuter plane with two pilots aboard crashed off Cape Cod after the crew reported an emergency and tried to return to the airport, authorities said. The pilots were presumed dead. The pilots were on a routine flight to return the plane to the airport in Albany, N.Y.

HAWAIIAN BUS STRIKE: The public transportation system for Honolulu and the rest of Oahu came to a halt when the union representing 1,300 bus workers went on strike, stranding tens of thousands of morning commuters on Hawaii's most populous island.

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