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California trial begins for alleged ecoterrorist

[JURIST] The trial of Rod Coronado [defense website], an environmental and animal rights activist charged [US DOJ press release, PDF] with one count of distributing information on explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, began in California Tuesday. Federal prosecutors say that in 2003 Coronado told an audience in San Diego how to start a fire using products commonly purchased from stores. Coronado faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted under legislation passed by Congress in 1997 in the wake of the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building and now enshrined in USC Title 18, Section 842(p)(2)(A) [text].

Coronado is said to have been a longtime advocate of ecoterrorism [Wikipedia backgrounder], and has been connected with both the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) [advocacy websites]. In June, Daniel McGowan, another alleged ecoterrorist associated with both the ALF and ELF, was sentenced [JURIST report] to 7 years in prison for conspiracy and arson charges. In May 2005, a top FBI official testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that violent environmental and animal rights groups are the nation's top domestic terror threat [testimony transcript; JURIST report]. AP has more.

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