[ARENA] Steven Kurtz cleared of all charges...

susana mendes silva susana.mendes.silva gmail.com
Quarta-Feira, 11 de Junho de 2008 - 16:15:49 WEST


obrigada miguel pelos updates neste caso.
ainda bem que acabou o pesadelo do steven kurtz.
é o espelho dum país que tem vindo a ser governado de forma tão  
estranha...


susana mendes silva
www.susanamendessilva.com
arslonga  netcabo.pt



On 11 Jun 2008, at 16:00, miguel leal wrote:

Para rematar as mensagens anteriores sobre este assunto...

________________________
ARTIST CLEARED OF ALL CHARGES IN PRECEDENT-SETTING CASE

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.

KURTZ SUMS UP END OF FOUR-YEAR NIGHTMARE

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.


BACKGROUND TO THE CASE

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 $256 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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