Besides the sentencing of Marie Mason, there have been developments in a number of other Green Scare cases in the Midwest and beyond.
The Rhinelander case has affected a number of activists. Five hundred genetically-modified research trees were destroyed at a federal research facility in Rhinelander, WI in 2000. Activist-turned-government-collaborater Ian Wallace pled guilty in October 2008 to this action, as well as an attempt to damage two buildings at Michigan Technological University. In March 2009 he received three years.
Bryan Lefey (aka Bryan Rivera), Katherine Christianson and Aaron Ellringer also took plea bargains and were sentenced for the Rhinelander action. They originally faced 10 to 15 years each. According to Midwestgreenscare blog, Christianson was sentenced to two years, and Ellringer to four days, after both cooperated with authorities. Lefey/Rivera has not cooperated, and was sentenced to three years.
DANIEL McGOWAN MOVED
As we reported in the Fall 2008 Fifth Estate, Daniel McGowan (already serving seven years for a Green Scare case) was called to a grand jury in the Rhinelander case but refused to provide the information prosecutors were looking for. Afterwards, McGowan was later transferred to a new Communications Management Unit (CMUs) at the federal prison in Marion, IL. The CMUs are previously secret units of prisons that are designed for maximum control over the communications between prisoners and the outside world; visits and phone calls are extremely limited. McGowan is apparently the only non-Arab or Muslim in the unit, and supporters speculate that he may have been sent there to give the appearance of “desegregation”, and/or to punish him for being an outspoken activist connected to his support campaign.
BACKFIRE FUGITIVE SIGHTED
The FBI has offered increased awards in an effort to catch four activists who were part of the original 2005 Operation Backfire indictments, but have eluded authorities. One of them, Rebecca Rubin, was reportedly sighted near Vancouver, BC. The FBI believed the others–Joseph Dibee, Josephine Overaker, and Justin Solondz–are also abroad. WilderPress! blog reported that in December 2008, wanted posters were placed around Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
Michael Ward, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, claims “regardless of their political or social message” that “these individuals are terrorists.” Ward’s Orwellian doublespeak inverts the truth: these individuals are being considered terrorists because of their political and social message.
Eric McDavid’s co-defendants, who have cooperated with authorities, have been sentenced. Zachary Jenson was sentenced to probation (with six months time served); Lauren Weiner received time served and five months home detention.
McDavid, who has not cooperated with authorities, is one of the few ELF activists who has gone to trial. Although he never carried out any actions and was apparently entrapped by an FBI plant who he was smitten with, he recently received 19 years. McDavid is appealing the sentence.
Longtime ALF activist Rod Coronado was released in December 2008. In a case widely denounced as both a petty vendetta by authorities and a violation of free speech, he was sentenced to a year in prison for a speech he made in 2003.
NEW ARRESTS UNDER AETA
The draconian new Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), which makes certain types of previously legal activism into “terrorism”, has been applied to four activists arrested in February in California. They are accused of having participated in a house demonstration, chalked slogans on sidewalks, and passed out leaflets.
For information about Marie Mason’s case, see Between Orwell And Mccarthy: The Crucifixion Of Marie Mason in this issue.
The article is also available on Marie Mason’s support site at