A few weeks ago, undercover FBI agents arrested Josh Connole, a 25-year-old antiwar activist in Pomona, Ca., on on suspicion of vandalism and arson that had caused $3.5 million in damages at four auto dealerships. The Los Angeles Times says the damage was allegedly done in the name of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a radical environmental group.
The arrest appeared to be a significant break for the FBI, which has investigated ELF attacks across the country for 11 years. The group has claimed responsibility for the burning of a Colorado ski lodge, an apartment building under construction in San Diego and new homes in Arizona and Long Island, N.Y. The Los Angeles-area attacks damaged about 135 SUVs.
But four days after his arrest, Connole was released for lack of evidence. His attorney, William Paparian, has filed a complaint with the Justice Department alleging the FBI violated Connole’s civil rights. Paparian compared the arrest with the case of Richard Jewell, the security guard named a suspect but never charged in the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympic games.