From Lorax <>
Date Mon, 25 Sep 2000 15:55:56 +0000 (GMT)

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North American Animal Liberation Front Press Office

David Barbarash 250-703-6312
Darren Thurston 604-618-5469

September 25, 2000

RCMP abuse of power and cover-up alleged

Vancouver - More than five years of RCMP harassment against two Vancouver
animal rights activists quietly came to an end last week. On Sept. 20,
exactly two and a half years after laying over 50 charges against them,
B.C. Crown Counsel Pat Donald entered a Stay of Proceedings on all counts.

The two activists, Darren Thurston and Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
spokesperson David Barbarash were the prime suspects in a razor blade
letter mail campaign carried out by a group called The Justice Dept.
Twenty-two B.C. and Alberta guide outfitters received booby-trapped
letters in Jan. 1996. In March 1998 Thurston and Barbarash were charged
with multiple counts of "sending a dangerous thing through the mail." Both
have always maintained their innocence.

"It is an absolute outrage that I was ever charged!" states Barbarash.
"This was a vicious campaign of political harassment waged by the RCMP's
National Security Investigations Section (NSIS) against two non-violent
activists. They had no evidence against us. Now they want to cover up
their abuse of power by staying the charges. It's pathetic!"

Donald explained to one defence lawyer that the reason for the Stay of
Proceedings was "disclosure issues." The issue she was most likely
concerned about was B.C. Supreme Court Judge Lysyk's recent order for
further Crown disclosure, which would have revealed more details of an
RCMP/NSIS undercover operation. Donald and lead RCMP/NSIS investigator
Leigh Ryan have continually denied its existence. Ryan even testified last
year at the preliminary hearing that no such operation existed, but files
ordered disclosed by Lysyk have continually shown otherwise. Previous
disclosure received by defence counsel have actually named the undercover
officers involved, as well as the involvement of CSIS undercover agents.

The harassment began in the summer of 1995 after four parcel pipe bombs
were mailed to Canadian fascists and a geneticist. The NSIS placed
numerous people under surveillance, but no charges have ever been laid.
Extensive physical surveillance was carried out on Barbarash, Thurston,
and others from Aug. 1995 through March 1997 to the present. Phones were
monitored resulting in thousands of hours of intercepted communications,
while bugs were placed in homes, hotels, and at least one vehicle. 

Most notably, a team of four RCMP undercover agents were used against the
pair. They worked at an East Vancouver left-wing cafe and tried, but
failed, to set up the two to commit an arson. In spite of all this effort
- the surveillance and undercover operatives were employed throughout the
critical time period - there is no evidence showing anyone mailing any
razor blade envelopes.

"I have been a direct target of the NSIS for over five years despite the
fact they had no evidence linking me to these crimes," states Barbarash.
"They followed me day and night, listened to all my calls, read all my
email. They tried to get me to burn down a building and that failed. Then
they raided my house on a flimsy warrant, laid charges a year later
because they wanted to keep my stuff, and now two and a half years later
they say 'We give up. You're free to go.' What a waste of taxpayers

Barbarash concedes the Stay of Proceedings is bittersweet as the question
of guilt will always remain: "I want my day in court; I want to be
acquitted! The RCMP lied in court and I can prove it! I am a non-violent
activist and they know it - they have stated as much. The RCMP are out of

"This just goes to show the lengths that the Canadian government is
willing to go to criminalize what is a basic human right - the right to
express non-violent dissent," says Darren Thurston. "This case should
serve as a warning to all citizens who dare to protest - what the RCMP did
to us, they can do to anyone."

Civil action against the RCMP is being considered.

More information and interviews are available from the number below.

North American Animal Liberation Front Press Office

* * * * * The Voice of the A.L.F. * * * * *

Spokesperson: David Barbarash


Phone: 250-703-6312

Fax: 419-858-9065

Mailing Address:  P.O.Box 3673, Courtenay, B.C., V9N 7P1 Canada

URL and PGP key:

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