After Congressional hearings brought governmental pressure to bear, a New Jersey federal grand jury in 2004 indicted seven individuals and the organization Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA on charges of animal enterprise terrorism under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 (formerly known as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act). The law singles out property crimes against businesses that use animals and treats them more seriously than similar offences against other organizations. This is the first time anyone has ever been tried under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. Many fear the convictions have set a precedent for animal protection campaigners throughout the country. In fact, numerous other environmental and animal activists are currently facing indictments and grand jury subpoenas in a recent massive governmental sweep in the U.S. that has come be known at the "Green Scare".
All of the SHAC defendants were involved in some capacity in the campaign to close Huntingdon Life Sciences. Originally, seven individuals were charged, along with the organization Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA. Charges against one activist were later dropped. None of those convicted are alleged to have carried out any of the substantive crimes laid out in the indictment — from property damage to intimidation. Rather, the six were convicted of running the SHAC USA website that allowed others access to information that could be used in such crimes. While one of those convicted now admits, "Some of the things I've done have been just rude, and I wouldn't do them again," all six remaining activists face years in federal prison for "crimes" in which no one was hurt. Four of the six are currently under house arrest while awaiting sentencing in June, and the SHAC7 Support Committee and attorneys are continuing to work to have the remaining two defendants released as well.
Previous Indybay Feature on the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty Case