Animal Rights Activist Arrested In Seattle Grand Jury Probe

KOMO TV/January 15, 2004

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 , 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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