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Steven Kurtz Mail Fraud Indictment Dismissed

CAE, "Free Range Grain," photo documentation of interactive installation
Critical Art Ensamble, Free Range Grain, photo documentation of interactive installation. Courtesy of CAE.

This past Monday, 21 April, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara ruled to dismiss the indictment against University of Buffalo Professor and Bio-Artist Steven Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble. The ruling comes as a happy suspension of the legal persecution Dr. Kurtz has been suffering since his 2004 arrest and subsequent targeting by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, first on suspicions of "bioterrorism" charges, and later reduced to mail fraud and wire fraud charges for the acquisition and transport of certain legally available biological lab equipment and some few hundred dollars worth of harmless bacteria culture. At the time Kurtz was developing an installation called Free Range Grains, which allowed participants to test food for the presence of genetically modified organisms. While the prosecution may yet appeal the judge's decision, and consequently take the case up to a higher federal court, Judge Arcara's ruling was welcome by Dr. Kurtz and his legal counsel and may yet be a signpost for a just resolution to a terrific mobilization of law enforcement against a symbolic and precedent-setting target. To learn more about Kurtz's work or his legal battles, please visit Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund.