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[Nettime-nl] Fwd: Steve Kurtz (Critical Art Ensemble) vrijgesproken van
Eric Kluitenberg on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 10:39:39 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Fwd: Steve Kurtz (Critical Art Ensemble) vrijgesproken van alle aanklachten

beste nettime-nl'ers,

Onderstaand persbericht is in het Engels verschenen, maar omdat de  
kwestie van de vervolging van kunstenaar Steve Kurtz, motor achter het  
Critical Art Ensemble en geneticus Robert Ferell, vanwege vermeend  
bioterrorisme en vervolgens "mail and wire fraud", ook op deze lijst  
meermalen aan de orde is geweest en vanwege de diverse activiteiten  
die in het kader van de internationale campagne in Nederland zijn  
georganiseerd toch maar doorgestuurd. Kurtz is nu vrijgesproken van  
alle aanklachten en het lijkt onwaarschijnlijk dat er nog een nieuwe  
rechtszaak wordt geopend (re-indigtment).

Daarmee is de enorme campagne, vooral vanuit de kunstwereld  
gelanceerd, een groot succes geworden. Maar de terreur voor het leven  
van Kurt en Ferell is er niet minder om. Terwijl Kurtz dit enigermate  
goed doorstaan heeft is gedurende dit proces de gezondheid en carrière  
van geneticus Robert Ferell volkomen verwoest. De man heeft meerdere  
hersenbloedingen aan de zaak overgehouden, daarnaast is kanker  
geconstateerd en inmiddels bevindt hij zich in een terminale fase  
omringd door familie en vrienden. Ferell heeft deze zaak duidelijk  
niet gewonnen - hij heeft ook eerder een deal gemaakt met het Dept. of  
Justice om ervan af te zijn en in rust te kunnen sterven.

Mijn woorden zijn hard, maar dat is ook de kern van deze zaak. Kunst  
staat in een samenleving waar alles met alles verbonden is en waar  
symbolische communicatie, op het niveau van de samenleving als geheel  
'de' communicatie is (zie Castells - The Culture of Real-Virtuality  
'96), niet langer los van haar maatschappelijke context. Autonomie is  
een illusie in het huidige tijdsgewricht. Interessant daaraan voor  
kunstenaars is dat hun interventies daarmee een nieuwe urgentie  
krijgen, maar er zijn ook consequenties. En er zijn  
verantwoordelijkheden. Het lot van Ferell zal voor altijd op de  
schouders drukken van de kunstenaars die met hem hebben samengewerkt -  
in het Engels zeg je dan dat er sprake is van 'new and complex  

Niet leuk, wel  belangrijk.


Begin forwarded message:

> From: CAE Defense Fund <media {AT} caedefensefund.org>
> Date: June 11, 2008 5:29:02 GMT+02:00
> To: "webmaster-caedefensefund.org" <webmaster {AT} caedefensefund.org>
> June 11, 2008
> Email: media {AT} caedefensefund.org
> Dr. Steven J. Kurtz: (716) 812-2968
> Lucia Sommer, CAE Defense Fund: (716) 359-3061
> Edmund Cardoni, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center: (716) 854-1694
> Department of Justice Fails to Appeal Dismissal
> Kurtz Speaks about Four-Year Ordeal
> Buffalo, NY--Dr. Steven Kurtz, a Professor of Visual Studies at SUNY  
> at
> Buffalo and cofounder of the award-winning art and theater group  
> Critical
> Art Ensemble, has been cleared of all charges of mail and wire  
> fraud. On
> April 21, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara dismissed the government's  
> entire
> indictment against Dr. Kurtz as "insufficient on its face." This  
> means that
> even if the actions alleged in the indictment (which the judge must  
> accept
> as "fact") were true, they would not constitute a crime. The US  
> Department
> of Justice had thirty days from the date of the ruling to appeal. No  
> action
> has been taken in this time period, thus stopping any appeal of the
> dismissal. According to Margaret McFarland, a spokeswoman for US  
> Attorney
> Terrance P. Flynn, the DoJ will not appeal Arcara's ruling and will  
> not seek
> any new charges against Kurtz.
> For over a decade, cultural institutions worldwide have hosted Kurtz  
> and
> Critical Art Ensemble's educational art projects, which use common  
> science
> materials to examine issues surrounding the new biotechnologies. In  
> 2004 the
> Department of Justice alleged that Dr. Kurtz had schemed with  
> colleague Dr.
> Robert Ferrell of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of  
> Public
> Health to illegally acquire two harmless bacteria cultures for use  
> in one of
> those projects. The Justice Department further alleged that the  
> transfer of
> the material from Ferrell to Kurtz broke a material transfer  
> agreement, thus
> constituting mail fraud.
> Under the USA PATRIOT Act, the maximum sentence for these charges was
> increased from five years to twenty years in prison.
> Dr. Kurtz has been fighting the charges ever since. In October 2007,  
> Dr.
> Ferrell pleaded to a lesser misdemeanor charge after recurring bouts  
> of
> cancer and three strokes suffered since his indictment prevented him  
> from
> continuing the struggle.
> Finally vindicated after four years of struggle, Kurtz, asked for a
> statement, responded stoically: "I don't have a statement, but I do  
> have
> questions. As an innocent man, where do I go to get back the four  
> years the
> Department of Justice stole from me? As a taxpayer, where do I go to  
> get
> back the millions of dollars the FBI and Justice Department wasted
> persecuting me? And as a citizen, what must I do to have a Justice
> Department free of partisan corruption so profound it has turned on  
> those it
> is sworn to protect?"
> Said Kurtz's attorney, Paul Cambria,  "I am glad an innocent man has  
> been
> vindicated. Steve Kurtz stared in the face of the federal government  
> and a
> twenty-year prison term and never flinched, because he believes in  
> his work
> and his actions were those of a completely innocent man. Clients  
> like him
> are a blessing, and although I have had many important victories,  
> this one
> stands at the top of the list."
> As coordinator of the CAE Defense Fund, a group organized to support  
> Kurtz
> from the beginning of the case, Lucia Sommer sees the end of the  
> prosecution
> as bittersweet, and like Kurtz, is thoughtful about the broader  
> significance
> of the case:  "This ruling is the best possible ending to a horrible
> ordeal--but we are mindful of numerous cases still pending, and the  
> grave
> injustices perpetrated by the Bush administration following 9/11.  
> This case
> was part of a larger picture, in which law enforcement was given  
> expanded
> powers. In this instance, the Bush administration was unsuccessful  
> in its
> attempt to erode Americans' constitutional rights."
> Referring to the international outcry the case provoked, involving
> fundraisers and protests held on four continents, Sommer said, "The
> government has unlimited resources to bring and prosecute these  
> kinds of
> charges, but the accused often don't have any resources to defend
> themselves. This victory could never have happened without the  
> activism of
> thousands of people. Supporters protested, vocally opposed the  
> prosecution,
> and refused to let it go on in silence. And without their efforts at
> fundraising, Kurtz and Ferrell would not have been able to defend  
> themselves
> from these false accusations."
> Sommer added that the next step for the defense will be to get back  
> all of
> the materials taken by the FBI during its 2004 raid on the Kurtz home,
> including several completed art projects, as well as Dr. Kurtz's lab
> equipment, computers, books, manuscripts, notes, research materials,  
> and
> personal belongings.  The four confiscated art projects are the  
> subject of
> an exhibition entitled SEIZED on view at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts  
> Center
> in Buffalo, NY, through July 18:
> http://www.hallwalls.org/visual_shows/2008/show_seized.html.
> The case originated in May 2004, when Kurtz's wife Hope died of heart
> failure as the couple was preparing a project about genetically  
> modified
> agriculture for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Police  
> who
> responded to Steve Kurtz's 911 call deemed the Kurtzes' art materials
> suspicious and alerted the FBI. Kurtz explained that the materials  
> (legally
> and easily obtained basic life science equipment and two harmless  
> bacteria
> samples) had already been displayed at museums throughout Europe and  
> North
> America with absolutely no risk to the public. However, the  
> following day,
> Kurtz was illegally detained for 22 hours on suspicion of  
> bioterrorism, as
> dozens of agents from the FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Homeland
> Security, Department of Defense, ATF, and numerous other law  
> enforcement
> agencies raided his home, seizing his personal and professional  
> belongings.
> After a federal grand jury refused to charge Kurtz with  
> bioterrorism, Kurtz
> and Ferrell were indicted on two counts of mail fraud and two counts  
> of wire
> fraud concerning the acquisition of  of harmless bacteria for one of
> Critical Art Ensemble's educational art projects. (Critical Art  
> Ensemble is
> the recipient of numerous awards for its projects, including the  
> prestigious
> 2007 Andy Warhol Foundation Wynn Kramarsky Freedom of Artistic  
> Expression
> Grant, in recognition of twenty years of distinguished work:
> http://www.creative-capital.org/index2.html.)
> The Department of Justice brought the charges in spite of the fact  
> that the
> alleged "victims of fraud"--American Type Culture Collection and the
> University of Pittsburgh--never filed any charges or complained of any
> wrongdoing, and the fact that in bringing the charges the Department  
> of
> Justice was acting completely outside its own Prosecution Policy  
> Relating to
> Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud
> (http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/43mcrm.htm 
> ).
> For more information and extensive documentation, including the  
> Judge's
> dismissal, please visit: http://caedefensefund.org
> ***

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