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Rights Groups Launch Campaign to End Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act

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Grassroots Coalition Demands Repeal of Law That Uses “Chilling Rhetoric of Terrorism” to Strip Rights

CONTACT: press@ccrjustice.org

December 8, 2008, New York – This week, the Coalition to Abolish the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act launched a campaign to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act (AETA), a law that broadens the scope of activities by animal rights, environmental, and labor groups that can be prosecuted as acts of terrorism. The Coalition also unveiled a new website with resources, actions, and ways to join. Visit the Coalition's website.

“The AETA criminalizes legal, constitutionally-protected activities,” said Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Attorney Matthew Strugar. “This law is a blatant attempt to silence peaceful political dissent and fundamental rights in the interests of powerful corporations.”

The coalition is a network of grassroots activists, lawyers, independent journalists and concerned citizens that aims to challenge the AETA and demand an end to the law that was signed by President George W. Bush on November 27, 2006, after it was rushed through Congress in the same month before Congressional recess. The law was passed by Congress under Suspension of the Rules, a procedure where congressional procedures are set aside oftentimes to quickly pass non-controversial bills. The AETA originates from the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) and expands the type of actions that are criminalized and increases penalties for violations.

"This is just another ploy by the corporate-government conglomerate to constrain social activism,” said Lauren Regan, Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. “Americans should be chilled by this brazen attempt to exploit the public’s fear of terrorism by labeling peaceful acts as terrorism.”

The Coalition to Abolish the AETA is a joint project of the Civil Liberties Defense Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights and is endorsed by: Attorneys for Animals; Campaign Humane, a project of the International Humanities Center; Compassion for Animals, Inc.; Compassion Over Killing; Deerbrook Haven; Earth Island Institute; Farm Sanctuary; Food Empowerment Project; Friendly Farms Rabbit Rescue; Kinship Circle; Last Chance for Animals; Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition; RabbitWise, Inc.; Rainforest Action Network; Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center; Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, University of Oregon; and, Unitarian Universalists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The Civil Liberties Defense Center is a nonprofit organization focused on defending and upholding civil liberties through education, outreach, litigation, legal support and assistance. The Civil Liberties Defense Center strives to preserve the strength and vitality of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as to protect freedom of expression. Visit CLDC's website.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.