In July 2006, Thurston pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and related arson charges that occurred from 1996 through 2001 in Oregon and four other U.S. states, and which were claimed in the name of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The FBI arrested Thurston and 10 other members of a west coast-based animal rights and environmentalist organization that the FBI and media called "The Family." The arrests were made as part of the FBI's Operation Backfire.
Thurston was sentenced in May 2007 to 37 months in prison in exchange for his cooperation with the investigation.
As a teenager Thurston began work with the Edmonton- based Citizens Organized for Animal Liberation as an organizer and spokesperson against animal exploitation and abuse. Through the years he has worked with a number of organizations including TAO Communications, BearWatch, Anti-Racist Action, Friends of the Elaho and the BC Compassion Club.
Charges and convictionsEdit
In 1992, Thurston was convicted for his part in an Animal Liberation Front action at a University of Alberta laboratory and liberating 29 cats slated for medical experimentation. For this act and another earlier action, he served two and a half years in a Canadian prison and was released in 1994.
In 1998, Thurston was charged along with former ALF spokesman David Barbarash relating to a series of threatening letters that were booby-trapped with razor blades and sent to hunting-guide outfitters across British Columbia. In late 2000, charges against Thurston were stayed by the Crown following a refusal by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to give details on informants used in the case.
On December 7, 2005, Thurston was arrested in Portland, Oregon in the company of Chelsea Gerlach. Although he was initially told he would receive a speedy deportation, he was later indicted in a case involving 16 individuals alleged to have been involved in 17 Earth Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Front and other unclaimed actions that took place between 1996 and 2001. These arrests took place as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Operation Backfire, referred to in the activist community as part of an ongoing trend known as the Green Scare.
Thurston was facing five federal charges including arson with a incendiary device and conspiracy in addition to two federal charges for the possession of fraudulent identification. The actual accusation of criminal wrongdoing levied against Thurston stems from an allegation that he was involved in an Earth Liberation Front incident at Litchtfield, California in 2001 during which wild horses rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management were freed and a barn burned to the ground.
See also Edit
- Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALFSG)
- Behind the Mask (ALF)
- Earth Liberation Prisoner Support Network (ELPSN)
- Operation Backfire
- ↑ Bell, Stewart. Animal rights activist accused of attacks in five American states, National Post, January 21, 2006.