Files show Md. police watched variety of activists

Files show Md. police watched variety of activists


November 19, 2008

BALTIMORE — Surveillance of anti-death penalty protesters and other activists by the Maryland State Police was broader and went on longer than previously disclosed, according to files that were turned over by police to dozens of activists who were improperly labeled as terrorists.

The files revealed that those labeled as terrorists included environmentalists, peace activists, animal rights activists and some people who have never participated in protests in Maryland.

Police allowed 53 people whom the agency acknowledged it wrongly classified as terrorists to view its files on them. However, the files it turned over were heavily redacted, and the activists and their attorneys said Wednesday that state police still have not come clean.

“After engaging in this secret intrusion, which everybody knows is wrong – including them, by admission – they are now engaging in pervasive secrecy about what they did and what it connects up with,” said Barry Kissin, a Frederick attorney who was one of the 53 so-called terrorists.

Police have said the agency spied on anti-war and anti-death penalty groups over a 14-month period in 2005 and 2006. However, some of the files were created as late as January 2007, and some detail surveillance of groups that protested other issues.

Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman, said Wednesday that ongoing surveillance only occurred during the 14-month period and that the other files were created in response to specific incidents that sparked concern among investigators. Surveillance of the groups and individuals was halted once it was determined they did not pose a threat to public safety, Shipley said.

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