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Animal Rights Activist Arrested In Seattle Grand Jury Probe

SEATTLE - Allison Lance-Watson, a prominent animal rights
activist, has been arrested in a grand jury investigation into an
arson attack on a forest product company and the theft of chickens
from an egg farm.


Lance-Watson, 45, of Friday Harbor is accused of lying to the
panel about potential links to two ecoterrorist attacks. She was
shackled as she was led into court Wednesday but was released
without posting a cash bond pending a preliminary hearing next
month.


Animal rights activists and environmentalists demonstrated
outside the U.S. Courthouse, accusing federal investigators of
repressive tactics that violate their civil rights.


Lance-Watson's husband is Paul Watson, a former Greenpeace
leader who heads the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. If
convicted, she could face as much as five years in prison and a
$250,000 fine.


The grand jury is investigating two attacks on the night and
early morning of May 6-7, 2000, that were cited in statements
issued by the shadowy Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation
Front, which have claimed responsibility for ecoterrorism
nationwide.


One case involves the break-in and removal of 228 chickens from
Dai-Zen Egg Farm in Burlington. An ALF communique said the chickens
had been placed in "loving homes."


The other stems from a fire at the headquarters of the timber
company Holbrook Inc. in Olympia. Three weeks later, an ELF
communique claimed responsibility on behalf of a previously unknown
group, Revenge of the Trees.


In a complaint against filed in U.S. District Court, FBI agent
Fernando Gutierrez wrote that at 8:30 a.m. on May 7, 2000, about
six hours after the fire, a rental truck pulled into a convenience
store about 12 miles south of Olympia and, according to employees,
the occupants dumped plastic bags into a trash bin.


A Thurston County sheriff's deputy found five bags containing
"three sets of dark clothes, two black ski masks, three pairs of
gloves, a wrapper from a pair of bolt cutters and a wrapper of wire
ties," according to the complaint. The clothes were wet and
covered with grass.


Images on the store's surveillance camera showed two people in
the truck were Gina Lynn and Joshua Trentor, who "have lengthy
histories of involvement in animal rights activism, including
having participated in animal releases, and, in Trentor's case,
being arrested in connection with ALF-claimed vandalism,"
Gutierrez wrote.


The videotapes also showed the truck had the same license plate
as one that Lance-Watson and her husband had rented to haul
equipment between Sea Shepherd's offices in Southern California and
Friday Harbor, north of Seattle.


Lance-Watson refused to answer questions before the grand jury
in August, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against
self-incrimination. At the time, her husband denied that Sea
Shepherd was associated in any way with ALF and ELF.


On Oct. 23, Lance-Watson was summoned again, given immunity from
prosecution and ordered to testify or face contempt of court
charges.


She then described Lynn as a friend with whom she spoke
regularly and - falsely, according to the complaint - denied
lending the rental truck to anyone, said she always kept the
vehicle in her possession and maintained that Lynn had never been
in the truck.


Lance-Watson's lawyer, Stuart A. Sugarman of Portland, Ore.,
said the complaint was "extremely one-sided" and added, "The
truth will come out."

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