Hatfill Sues Government over FBI Anthrax Probe; Says Perpetual Status as 'Person of Interest' Ruined Him

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Hatfill Sues Government over FBI Anthrax Probe; Says Perpetual Status as 'Person of Interest' Ruined Him


Byline: Guy Taylor, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Steven J. Hatfill, the bioweapons researcher called a "person of interest" in the government's investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks, is suing Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Department of Justice and the FBI, saying they have wrecked his life.

Mr. Hatfill filed suit in D.C. federal court yesterday, accusing Mr. Ashcroft and others, including Van A. Harp, the former head of the FBI's Washington field office, of violating his constitutional rights. Mr. Hatfill says he has been made the fall guy for the FBI's lack of progress in the anthrax probe.

Five persons were killed and 17 injured during the weeks after the September 11 attacks when anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed to media outlets in Florida and New York and to offices on Capitol Hill. No charges have been filed against Mr. Hatfill, and the FBI hasn't called him a suspect in the investigation.

But the attorney general has referred to him as one among several people of interest in the investigation, and when the FBI repeatedly searched his apartment last year, Mr. Hatfill became the center of news coverage of the probe.

Mr. Hatfill's attorney, Thomas G. Connolly, told reporters yesterday that "the attorney general and his subordinates ... made Dr. Hatfill a prisoner in his own home ... without any evidence linking him to the attacks and without bringing any formal charges against him."

"The public campaign against Dr. Hatfill began last summer when the FBI and DOJ officials tipped off the press that they intended to search Dr. Hatfill's apartment," Mr. Connolly said. "Never mind that Dr. Hatfill had consented to the search ... the FBI was orchestrating a media event broadcast live to a national audience. The government wanted to show an anxious nation that it was making progress in the anthrax investigation."

Mr. Connolly refused to attach a dollar figure to the compensation his client is seeking from the government.

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Hatfill Sues Government over FBI Anthrax Probe; Says Perpetual Status as 'Person of Interest' Ruined Him
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