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Four Charged in Animal-Rights Incidents

On Friday, the FBI announced that it had arrested four animal-rights extremists suspected of harassing researchers who work at University of California (UC) campuses in Berkeley and Santa Cruz. The four are accused of violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act by participating in several incidents at researchers' homes dating back to October 2007, including one on 24 February 2008 in which several protesters allegedly tried to forcibly enter the home of a UC Santa Cruz researcher during a birthday party for her young daughter. They have not been charged in connection to firebombings that targeted UC Santa Cruz researchers last summer.

Researchers in the United States have experienced an uptick in home protests and other personal forms of intimidation by animal-rights activists in recent years. A UC Berkeley spokesperson, cited by the Los Angeles Times, said police reported 158 such incidents at Berkeley between August 2007 and December 2008. If convicted, the four defendants could serve up to 5 years in prison for each violation.