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Thomas C. Butler 

thomas c. butler Dr. Thomas C. Butler, a preeminent authority on infectious diseases at Texas Tech University, was charged in early 2003 with allegedly smuggling samples of plague bacteria into the United States, improperly transporting them within the country, and lying about them to authorities. Additional charges of theft, embezzlement and fraud were added in a second indictment. If convicted of all charges, he would have faced life in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Here at FAS we don't know what Dr. Butler did or why. But we share the concern of other independent observers that the government prosecuted this case in a manner grossly disproportionate to the offenses that were alleged. Dr. Butler is not a terrorist.

"It's of grave concern that in a free society, such an Alfred Hitchcockian situation could emerge," said Peter Agre, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Donations in support of Dr. Butler's pro bono legal team, payable to the Thomas Butler Legal Defense Fund, may be sent to:

Daniel C. Schwartz, Esq
Bryan Cave LLP
700 Thirteenth Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20005

Commerce Dept Notice on Alleged Export Violations by Thomas C. Butler, Federal Register, September 14, 2006.

Update May 2006: Dr. Butler's Petition for Certiorari, filed at the U.S. Supreme Court April 11, 2006 (case no. 05-1308), was denied by the Court on May 15, 2006.

Plagued By Fear, a special report on the Thomas Butler Case from the Cleveland Plain Dealer by John Mangels, March 26-April 1, 2006.

Security for whose sake? by William B. Greenough, III, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 2005.

Destroying the Life and Career of a Valued Physician-Scientist Who Tried to Protect Us from Plague: Was It Really Necessary?, Clinical Infectious Diseases, June 1, 2005.

Open Letter Protesting the Treatment of Thomas C. Butler from colleagues and supporters, March 2005.

Update October 2004: Butler Gambles on Appeal, as reported in ScienceNow, October 19, 2004.

Update April 2004: An updated review and critique of the Butler case was offered by Texas Tech geologist Dr. Thomas M. Lehman.

Update March 2004: Dr. Butler was sentenced to two years in prison and more than $50,000 in fines.

Update February 2004: As a consequence of his conviction, Dr. Butler surrendered the medical license which authorized him to practice medicine in Texas.

Update December 2003: Thomas C. Butler was convicted December 1 on 47 of the 69 charges he faced, but was acquitted on charges of lying to the FBI, smuggling plague samples into the United States and illegally transporting samples. His attorneys say the guilty verdicts will be appealed.

Other Expressions of Support:

Trial Coverage

Case Files

News and Commentary on the Butler Case

Other Resources