Six activists will be serving prison sentences of 1-6 years for inciting violence and terror in the name of animal rights against Hungtingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a contract research organization in the U.S. and U.K.
Kevin Kjonaas, former president of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA Inc. (SHAC-USA), was given 72 months in jail, while Lauren Gazzola, SHAC-USA's former campaign coordinator, was sentenced to 52 months. Jacob Conroy, the group's coordinator and Web site manager, got 48 months. West Coast coordinator Joshua Harper and Andrew Stepanian garnered three years, while Darius Fullmer earned a year and a day.
The six SHAC members were found guilty in March of various counts relating to animal enterprise terrorism, conspiracy, interstate stalking, and other crimes against employees and officers of HLS-USA in East Millstone, NJ, reports The Scientist. It was the first prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, a 1992 law expanded in 2002 to equate acts of harassment and intimidation with terrorism.
SHAC and its organizers posted personal info about HLS employees on the Internet, including the names and ages of their children and theirschools. HLS victims testified their homes and cars had been vandalized. Defense lawyers unsuccessfully argued that the SHAC members had merely been exercising free speech.
-- Joe Roybal