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Researcher says he'll sue over anthrax probe

From Kevin Bohn (CNN)

Dr. Steven Hatfill has denied involvement in last year's anthrax attacks.
Dr. Steven Hatfill has denied involvement in last year's anthrax attacks.

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ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) -- A former Army bioweapons researcher who has been investigated in connection with last fall's deadly anthrax attacks said he is preparing several lawsuits related to his treatment in the inquiry.

"I have a number of lawsuits in preparation. Rest assured," Dr. Stephen Hatfill said Saturday. "I have a number of lawsuits in litigation, in preparation, extending on many different continents."

Hatfill has not been charged in the investigation and has steadfastly denied having any role in or any knowledge of deadly anthrax mailings.

Anthrax-laced letters were sent to the offices of U.S. Sens. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and to TV network news offices in New York and may have been sent to other places.

Five people, including two postal employees in Washington, died of inhalation anthrax.

Hatfill's spokesman refused comment on who may be the target of any lawsuits or a time frame for filing them. His attorneys previously have said lawsuits were being considered.

Hatfill had his apartment searched three times as part of the investigation into who mailed the anthrax letters in fall 2001.

He has bitterly denounced the treatment he says he has received from the government and the media in relation to the anthrax inquiry, saying he has been the victim of innuendo and gossip.

He and his spokesman have criticized U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft for describing Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the anthrax probe but for not clarifying what that term means. Authorities have not described Hatfill as a suspect in the investigation.

Hatfill spoke Saturday to a conference sponsored by Accuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog group.

The former government scientist continues to look for a job. He was fired last month from a position at Louisiana State University where he helped train emergency workers to respond to bioterrorism attacks. LSU did not give a reason for the firing.

A Justice Department official sent an e-mail to the program director in August directing him not to use Hatfill on any Justice Department-funded programs. Hatfill was working on one such program.

The e-mail was sent right before Hatfill was put on administrative leave. A LSU spokesman has said that university officials only learned of the e-mail after the university already had decided to terminate Hatfill and that the correspondence had nothing to do with that action.

When asked who he believes is responsible for the anthrax attacks, Hatfill said, "Throughout this entire year, I have tried to sit on the fence. There are times when I think it could be domestic. There are times when I think it is foreign. I don't know.

"I don't have enough information. I have not seen the powder. I don't have enough scientific evidence to make any sort of determination."



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