On Friday, November 17, 2000, animal rights activist Josh Harper was scheduled to be indicted in Portland, Oregon, for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Harper has in the past claimed to be an innocent conduit of information from other, anonymous, activists who have carried out terrorist attacks on animal enterprises. Although apparently not a target of any investigations himself, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Harper to testify before a grand jury investigating such attacks. Prosecutors likely believe that Harper has direct knowledge of who is carrying out Animal Liberation Front/Environmental Liberation Front attacks.
Harper’s own behavior makes it seem likely that he has such knowledge. Harper has repeatedly told animal rights-friendly audiences that he has no idea who is behind the ALF attacks, but refuses to appear before a grand jury and say, “I have no idea who is behind the ALF attacks.” Why?
If you believe Harper, its because his way of protesting the oppressive state. If you read between the lines, however, Harper’s got the best reason in the world for not testifying — he almost certainly does know who was behind the attacks and if he testifies otherwise he would open himself up to later perjury charges.
A recent statement by Harper seems to indicate he knows more than he claims. According to Harper,
This is a first in our movement, and will set a precedent that could be very harmful. The government is essentially saying, “Snitch on your friends or go to jail” Failure to cooperate with a grand jury is going to start costing people years of their lives.
If, as Harper claims, he has no knowledge of who committed several prominent ALF attacks, why would he be forced to snitch on friends before the grand jury? It might come as a shock to animal rights activists, but generally “their my friends” is not considered a good reason not to testify about criminal actions of acquaintances.
Don’t Let Harper’s Jailing Go Unnoticed. Frontline Information Service press release, November 15, 2000.
Josh Harper Statement: Increase the Momentum. Frontline Information Service press release, November 11, 2000.
No-show spurs FBI to arrest Eugene activist. Mark Larabee, The Oregonian, September, 29, 2000.
Josh Harper Statement. Frontline Information Service press release, October 2, 2000.