VANCOUVER (November 9, 2010) – Over the weekend Stop UBC Animal Research, a Vancouver, BC animal advocacy organization, learned that a shadowy Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based private detective agency is investigating its members and monitoring the group’s activities. The security firm, Information Network Associates, which has been awarded contracts with US intelligence agencies, recently published in its weekly newsletter, “Extremist Watch,” a two-page feature on the Canadian activist group. In the article, INA provided details about Stop UBC Animal Research’s members, including information from individuals’ Facebook pages. Stop UBC Animal Research said it was not surprised it has become a target since the group has brought significant attention to the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) animal research program.
“Some powerful forces are not happy we’ve exposed UBC’s research on animals,” said Brian Vincent, spokesperson for Stop UBC Animal Research. “Those forces don’t want the public to know UBC is conducting cruel experiments on animals, including flooding saline solution into the lungs of newborn piglets, cutting open the backs of cats, exposing mice to cigarette smoke, and giving monkeys electroconvulsive shock.”
According to INA’s website, the company is a “licensed private detective agency” that “provides premier services for government, private enterprise and private citizens.” Its services include: “professional and discreet investigations;” “undercover operations;” “surveillance;” “data mining;” and “computer forensics.” Stop UBC Animal Research has been unable to determine who hired INA to investigate their organization.
Online sources tracking INA say the company publishes “Extremist Watch,” to reveal intelligence on the animal rights movement, including activists’ home addresses, details about activists’ personal lives, and their activities. Last month, INA coordinated a secretive “security roundtable” conference called “Managing Threats from Activist Groups.” According to OMB Watch, INA received more than $2 million from the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security in 2006.
In its August 19 edition of “Extremist Watch,” INA published an extensive report on Stop UBC Animal Research. The security firm wrote, “In the midst of the struggles of their American counterparts, Canadian activists are attempting to grow and become more effective in their animal rights activism. A new campaign, ‘Stop UBC Animal Research’ has been launched in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area and has been receiving a noteworthy amount of media attention recently…” The newsletter prominently featured Mr. Vincent, including a picture of the Stop UBC Animal Research spokesman and reporting on a presentation he gave this summer at a national animal rights conference in Washington, DC. INA wrote, “In the weeks following the conference, the intelligence community has been watching and documenting Vincent’s campaign against UBC.”
While most of the information INA has gathered about Stop UBC Animal Research appears to come from media stories and Google searches, the private detective agency reported its has been monitoring group members’ personal Facebook pages. INA noted, “According to source intelligence, Vincent recently posted an update on his personal Facebook page noting he had a 10’X 3’ banner with the slogan, “Stop University of British Columbia Animal Research” printed and would be using it for future demonstrations and outreach events. Additionally, Vincent has had t-shirts with the same slogan printed on them and is selling them for $20.00 to generate funds for the campaign.”
“Unlike UBC, which has gone out of its way to keep its activities secret from the public, Stop UBC Animal Research has nothing to hide,” said Vincent. “Stop UBC Animal Research has a very clear mission statement – we employ peaceful, compassionate, and legal approaches to exposing UBC’s experiments on animals. The fact we’re being monitored shows we’re being effective.”