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Nation in brief

11 indicted in ecoterrorism inquiry

By wire services
Published January 21, 2006

WASHINGTON - Eleven people have been indicted in a series of arsons, claimed by the radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, in five Western states, the Justice Department said Friday.

The 65-count indictment said the suspects are responsible for 17 incidents in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, including sabotaging a high-tension power line, in a conspiracy that dates to 1996. The indictment was returned Thursday by a federal grand jury in Eugene, Ore., and unsealed Friday.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said: "Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what the motive. There is a clear difference between constitutionally protected advocacy . . . and violent criminal activity."

Eight defendants have been arrested. Three people remain at large, and are believed to be outside the United States, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

Oklahoma City witness released from prison

OKLAHOMA CITY - Michael Fortier, the government's star witness in the Oklahoma City bombing trials, was released from federal prison Friday after serving more than 10 years for failing to warn authorities about the plot.

Fortier, 37, received a 12-year sentence after striking a plea bargain in which he agreed to testify against Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. He got time off for good behavior.

Democrats convicted of slashing GOP tires

MILWAUKEE - Four Democratic presidential campaign workers pleaded no contest Friday to charges that they punctured the tires of 25 vehicles Republicans had intended to use to get out the vote on Election Day 2004. A fifth defendant was acquitted.

Jurors were deliberating when the four agreed to enter the pleas on misdemeanor charges.

The vehicles were parked next to a Bush-Cheney campaign office to give rides to voters. The vandalism caused delays as party workers rounded up different vehicles.

Elsewhere . . .

FORMER PENTAGON STAFFER SENTENCED: A former Pentagon analyst who gave classified information to an Israeli diplomat and two members of a pro-Israel lobbying group was sentenced Friday to more than 12 years in prison. Lawrence A. Franklin, 59, had worked with top Pentagon officials, and has expertise on Iraq and Iran. He pleaded guilty in October to three felony counts.

MARYLAND SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: A Baltimore judge struck down a 33-year-old state law against gay marriage Friday, saying it violates the Maryland Constitution's guarantee of equal rights.

N.Y. TRANSIT DISPUTE: New York's 33,000 transit workers rejected a new contract by a mere seven votes Friday, raising fears of another strike like the one that brought subways and buses to a standstill a month ago. Opponents of the proposed contract said they were hopeful a new deal could be reached without another walkout.

PROMINENT CORONER INDICTED: In Pittsburgh, Dr. Cyril Wecht, a nationally renowned medical examiner who consulted in the deaths of Elvis Presley and JonBenet Ramsey, was indicted Friday on federal charges of using county employees to campaign for him and handle his private lab work.

[Last modified January 21, 2006, 01:34:14]

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