Research is Not Terrorism: Steve Kurtz

A photograph of FBI officials entering Steve Kurtz's house, April 2004
Steve Kurtz, Research is Not Terrorism, April 2004.

Steve Kurtz, artist, activist and researcher, arrested by the FBI

Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble spoke about his case for the first time since his arrest in the USA. He was accompanied by Claire Pentecost from the Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund.

Steve Kurtz was wrongly arrested in 2004, the FBI on charges relating to bioterrorism, because he had sourced some harmless bacteria to use in an artistic project. The bioterrorism charges were finally dropped by a Grand Jury, after an international storm of protest, however Steve still faces FBI charges of mail fraud (a charge traditionally used by the FBI when they can't pin another charge on someone - Critical Art Ensemble are known for their political views expressed through their work). Also indicted was Robert Ferrell, head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health. The charges concern technicalities of how Ferrell helped Kurtz to obtain $256 worth of harmless bacteria for one of Kurtz's art projects.

Artists, scientists and civil liberties groups internationally have publicly condemned both the old and new charges and the continued harrassment of Steve Kurtz and many people that he has worked with. These new charges still carried a potential jail sentence of 20 years and threaten many researchers in the sciences who source material in a similar way.