Peter Lunenfeld on Tue, 22 Apr 2008 11:29:24 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Buffalo News on Dismissal of Case against CAE's Steve Kurtz

This seems to be good news about Steve Kurtz, would like to hear more.
What a travesty this prosecution was.


Federal judge dismisses mail and wire fraud charges against Kurtz
UB professor was accused of illegally obtaining biological materials
By Michael Beebe and Dan Herbeck NEWS STAFF REPORTERS
Updated: 04/21/08 12:24 PM

A federal judge today dismissed criminal indictments against Steven
Kurtz, the University at Buffalo professor accused of mail and wire
fraud when he obtained biological materials he intended to use in his

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara ruled that the indictment
government prosecutors brought against Kurtz "is insufficient on its

Arcara's ruling ends a four-year battle that began May 11, 2004 when
Kurtz's wife, Hope Kurtz, died of heart failure in the couple's home
on College Street in Buffalo's Allentown neighborhood.

Emergency responders, including the Buffalo Police, contacted the FBI
after finding bacteria cultures and other unusual items in the house.

FBI agents from a terrorism task force showed up in white biohazard
suits, searching the house for eight hours as stunned neighbors tried
to figure out what was going on.

A federal grand jury indicted Kurtz on felony mail fraud and wire
fraud charges in June 2004. He was accused of illegally obtaining
bacteria cultures for use in an art exhibit protesting United States
government food policies.

Over the past four years, the U.S. Justice Department's prosecution of
Kurtz has touched off protests by many artists and college professors
in Buffalo and elsewhere.

Kurtz's supporters have called the case a Bush administration attack
on artistic freedom, claiming that Kurtz was targeted because his
offbeat art exhibits raise critical questions about government
policies. The Justice Department has denied the allegations.

Dr. Robert E. Ferrell, a genetics researcher with the University of
Pittsburgh, was charged with illegally obtaining the cultures under
the pretense that he planned to use the material in his own scientific

Ferrell pleaded guilty last October to a misdemeanor charge of
"mailing an injurious article" to Kurtz.

In court papers protesting the search, attorney Paul J. Cambria
accused the FBI of illegally questioning Kurtz, illegally searching
his home and trying to portray him as "a bioterrorist."

Paul M. Moskal, Buffalo FBI spokesman, said agents only followed the
evidence after being called into the case by Buffalo Police. He said
agents never intended to target Kurtz.

Kurtz said the bacteria he obtained for his art exhibit was harmless,
but prosecutors maintained that the material could be harmful if it
was mishandled. He complained that agents also confiscated about 20
books he was using for research on germ warfare, and also a manuscript
for a book he was writing for the topic.

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