harassment is still alive and well in Canada these days. Activists in British
Columbia (B.C.) report incidents of covert and overt surveillance, including having
their homes and vehicles bugged, being followed regularly by plain-clothed cops,
and, most recently, having their homes raided by the Feds. Darren Thurston and
David Barbarash, both convicted of and having served prison time for A.L.F.-related
"crimes" five years ago, have been the focus of much of this attention
as of late. Of course, given their history, these courageous warriors are an easy
target for stupid cops who apparently have no other leads in their attempt to
solve these "crimes."
BC -- One day, while cleaning Gina's truck, I noticed a black metal box shoved
way under the dashboard on the passenger side. Thinking it was more than a little
strange, I partially pulled it out to take a closer look. It looked strange--it
had stickers with serial numbers and connectors with several wires coming out
of it. It was an audio transmitter, a bug. Although I didn't know who had placed
it there, I could take several guesses as to who might have wanted to. Assuming
that if there was a bug in the truck, there sure had to be one in the house as
well, that night I looked around our home doing a fairly intense search of everything.
At 3:00 a.m. I found the bug hidden
in our furnace room, located right off our living room. I noticed some strange-looking,
small, gray wires shoved way up next to a pipe in a hole in the ceiling, nestled
in insulation. I pulled the wires out further to take a look. And, hmm...it looked
pretty strange. The first thing I saw was a BC-Telephone pager that had a wire
running through it to a circuit board --definitely not your normal home electrical
We contacted several lawyers to find out what the legalities of
removing electronic surveillance equipment were. We did not know who had placed
the device, be it private investigators hired by the fur (or other) corporate
industry slimeballs, law enforcement, or national intelligence. Legal or illegal?
Both transmitters were removed, taken apart to be inspected and photographed.
Again, several lawyers' opinions were solicited as to the next course of action
to be taken. After reviewing the options, it was decided to do nothing and keep
the devices secured in a locked filing cabinet.
(In hindsight, the above
course of action--to remove listening devices--could quite likely mean the next
course of action for the cops would be house raids. Activists take note!)
Three days later, having been burned on the effectiveness
of their surveillance bugs, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) carried out
several raids in western Canada. Thursday morning, March 20th, the RCMP served
search warrants at five locations: mine and Gina's house, David's house, David's
storage locker, David's partner's house, and my mother's house. Four of the searches
were carried out simultaneously in Vancouver and North Vancouver, B.C., while
the fifth in Edmonton, Alberta, was carried out later that evening. An estimated
30 plain-clothes RCMP officers were involved in the searches.
warrants indicated that they were investigating 21 counts of intent to cause bodily
harm (regarding Justice Department razor blade letters sent to big-game guide
outfitters in January of '96) and 4 counts of attempted murder (regarding mail
bombs sent to three racist leaders and a cattle genetics company in May, June,
and July of '95).
ENTERING & THEFT
The warrants allowed
for the seizure of items allegedly relating to those "crimes," such
as unspecified computers (and all relevant equipment), modems, software (programs
and instructions), hardware used to create bomb components such as timers, batteries
explosive material, etc., dark items of clothing (including threads and fibers
from these items), razor blades, utility knives, envelopes, tape, keys, and instruction
manuals for operating any computer equipment seized. It also listed the electronic
surveillance devices by serial number in the search warrants under the list of
items to be seized (which is supposed to be a list only of items connected to
alleged criminal activity--not their lost toys).
Basically, the warrants
allowed for the seizure of anything and everything they wanted to take, by using
language such as "including, but not limited to...." We don't have Grand
Juries in Canada; instead we have giant fishing expeditions in the form of these
One of the most ambiguous areas of the search warrant listed:
"Any documentation and/or files that belong to, or relate to, Darren Thurston
and David Barbarash including, but not limited to, letters and correspondence,
telephone bills, diaries, address books and lists, notes, receipts, records of
purchase, postage stamps, bomb building manuals and other literature relating
to the building of bombs, and other papers including communiques, files and books
relating to the offenses described below including newspaper clippings, scrap
book collections, diagrams, drawings, notes and texts."
From our house,
they took my laptop computer and external hard drive, my entire four-drawer file
cabinet and all of its contents plus 10 boxes of stuff including miscellaneous
files, over 100 computer disks, about 15 video tapes, assorted literature, several
books, personal correspondence including letters sent to me in jail, photos, a
cell phone, bolt cutters, a typewriter, photographs of the electronic surveillance
devices, my Daytimer with all of my identification, all of my keys, phone bills,
tax records, money, bank book, etc., etc., etc. Besides some of the above items
belonging to Gina, they also took letters to her from Rod Coronado, her hairbrush,
and a pile of her personal papers.
From David's house, his storage locker,
and his partner's house, they took all of his tapes and CDs, eight boxes of his
research and archival files, years of personal correspondence, various clothes,
money, and tons more irrelevant stuff÷including elementary school report
cards, a box of plastic animals and dinosaurs, and his niece's drawings--filling
IN THE COURTS
Through our lawyer, we were represented
at a hearing on May 6th, where the RCMP requested to have the information on which
the search warrants were obtained sealed from us. Usually these requests are done
automatically without anyone present but the cops and the judge. The RCMP, through
the Justice Department, filed a 16-page affidavit to support their sealing request,
but they did promise to release the search warrant information to us, unedited,
on June 1st. To obtain the 16-page affidavit will mean another hearing.
April 16th, without our or our lawyer's knowledge, they obtained a detention order
allowing RCMP to keep all of the above for three additional months (as of that
date), pending further investigation. We filed an application in the courts for
the return of seized items on the grounds that their absence created hardships
for us. As of May 13th, they have returned only a bare minimum of the items, including
some of the money, I.D.s, keys, and phone books.
the past few years, there have been dozens of actions taken in B.C. and across
Canada against animal abusers and their businesses, none of which have been "solved"
by the police. These latest searches represent nothing more than a desperate attempt
by the cops to appear that they are making progress on these cases, by focusing
their attention on two of the most well-known animal activists in Canada. Although
extremely stressful and disruptive, it is exactly this type of harassment which
we must expect and be prepared for. As we collect the fragments of our files and
our lives, we continue to move forward.
Anatomy of the
The black metal box was shoved up under the dash on the
passenger side of Gina's Toyota pick-up. It's size was roughly that of a box encasing
a cell phone (7-5/16" long by 2-1/2" wide and 1" deep). In fact,
the device was basically a modified cell phone with the box containing three outputs--antenna
and power on one side and microphone on the other.
The power was connected
by a direct line to the truck's battery via the fuse box (an installation job
during which the cops had disconnected the horn and some dashboard lights while
the truck was being detained late last year under false pretenses, but that's
another story...), and the antenna was connected to the then unused car stereo
antenna (which was found to be mysteriously raised). The microphone was threaded
under the dash from the transmitter and up under the corner paneling--the one
between the windshield and the side window--coming to a rest across and to the
right of where the passenger's mouth would be.
On the box and cell phone
were serial numbers and a phone number. Speculation is that the number could be
called and after entering a touch tone code, reception would be obtained at any
time, even when the ignition was off. The use of a modified cell phone leads to
further speculation about the possibilities of the bug being doubly used as a
tracking device, since cell phones can leave traces of which area they are being
Later, the next bug was found in the home of Darren and Gina.
Shoved up into the roof of their basement suite, behind a piece of ceiling drywall
that had been cut out and screwed back in place, was a massive battery pack consisting
of twenty-four D-cells wrapped in electrical and duct tape. Connected to the pack
was a circuit board, 1-1/4" by 2-1/4" and wrapped in soft plastic, with
an attached pager enabling the pack to be turned on and off remotely. Also, connected
by a wire to the circuit board was a flat, black, plastic-covered box 2-1/8"
by 1-1/4" wide.
On one end, attached to a gold connector, was a long,
black, flexible antenna measuring 5-1/4" long. Also coming out of the box
were the microphones: two gray wires each ending in tiny (1/2" long by 1/8"
wide and 1/16" thick) clear, plastic pieces, one labeled 'R' and the other
'L.' The microphones were hidden above the drywall and stuck to a pipe which came
out of the furnace room and into the living room running a few inches below the
ceiling. The metal pipe would make a good conductor of sound. There were serial
numbers and a pager number on this device as well.
Signs of Covert Eavesdropping or Bugging
Others know your confidential
business or professional trade secrets.
You have noticed strange sounds or
volume changes on your phone lines.
You have noticed static, popping, or scratching
on your phone lines.
You can hear sounds coming from your phone's handset
when it's hung up.
Your phone often rings and nobody is there or a tone/beep
Your radio or television has suddenly developed strange interference.
Secret meetings and/or bids seem to be less than secret.
People seem to
know your activities when they shouldn't.
You have been the victim of a burglary,
even if nothing was taken.
Electrical wallplates appear to have been moved
slightly or "jarred."
Dime-sized discoloration has suddenly appeared
on the wall paint.
White dry-wall dust/debris is noticed on the floor next
to the wall.
Nails and screws previously covered with paint are scraped off
You notice that the phone company trucks/"employees" are
spending a lot of time doing repair work near your home or office.
cable, plumbing, or air conditioning repair people show up to do work when no
one had called them.
Your door locks suddenly don't "feel right"
or are broken.
Furniture has been moved slightly, and no one knows why.
or delivery trucks are often parked nearby with nobody in them.
to have been rummaged through.
Indoor pets are mysteriously let outside.