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During the past several years the campaign SHAC (Stop Huntington Life Sciences) have been fighting against animal cruelty committed by HLS in the face of extreme police repression. This week, a UK-based SHAC activist became another legal casualty in the state-sponsored attempts to silence HLS' critics, and was passed a guilty verdict on a 'conspiracy to blackmail' charge.  The verdict was given on the 18th of March and she is due to be sentenced next month. The other two defendents have not yet appeared in court as they await extradition from the Netherlands.

The drama began on July the 6th 2012 when activists' homes were raided to find suspects accused of 'conspiracy to blackmail'. The charge can be sentenced with up to 14 years imprisonment. A previous Schnews covers the situation more in depth, including the bullshit nature of the blackmail charge: the catch-all charge means a whole host of otherwise legal actions are bracketed with an unrepresentative sample of law-breaking.

This certainly seems to have been the case with Debbie's trial, during which she was accused of conspiring to blackmail over the course of a decade from 2001-2011. No specific incidence of blackmail was referred to. The prosecution tried to drag up evidence such as “she has a book of George Orwell therefore she must be up to no good!”, namely,  involved in emails sent under the alias 'George Orwell' to one of HLS' clients. Because it's not like everyone and his dog has a copy of 1984 somewhere... They also scraped the barrel with some 'foreign' evidence from periods of time where Debbie was, inconveniently for them, very much in the UK.

In terms of silencing Debbie, she has been standing firm despite the pressure. In an interview she had stated that bail conditions disallowed for her to protest, house raids were consistently done to remove protest material (such as flyers) and her charges were constantly changed. Nevertheless, she consistently spoke out about the need for solidarity with animal rights activists in her situation and has been supported throughout by solidarity actions taking place across the continent.

As for the other two, the trial has been put on hold for now. To get involved yourself follow the link to a map sharing locations of groups still tackling Huntingdon Life Sciences.





Stories about similar subjects...

As tensions escalate between migrants and the authorities in Calais, the right-wing mayor Natasha Bouchart has made some surprising announcements: demanding a new reception centre for 400 vulnerable people and a day centre for migrants from central government. What's that all about?

Whilst Dorset hunt sabs were gathered on a public road to document the unlawful activities of the hunt, an angered rider rode his horse at speed into a hunt saboteur - knocking her from her feet and trampling over her with his horse, before riding off laughing.

Pro Patria (For Fatherland), a new far-right group with seasoned members, raise their ugly head in the Netherlands with a demonstration announced for the 20th September in the Hague.

“Being raided, arrested, dragged through the legal system and having my property taken from me (including my photo album because it had a "hunt sabs" sticker on it and my notebook for my uni degree in criminology) just for campaigning seems over the top and has been pretty stressful. But it's not going to stop me from fighting for what I believe in and against what I disagree with. This isn't for ego, nor for fame, it's for the exploited and the vulnerable.” SOCPA 7 defendant - Emma

Mass squatting action in metal recycling plant pulled off in style, after brutal policing leaves hundreds of undocumented people without shelter.

Immigration rights activists descend on Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres to bring a message of solidarity and resistance.

The US and the EU are negotiating a new trade agreement – TTIP – which amounts to the biggest transfer of power to corporations seen in recent years.

Amsterdam squat evicted in gentrification battle.

Twitter: @SchNEWS