April 21, 2008
BUFFALO, New York: A judge on Monday dismissed charges against a college professor accused of illegally obtaining biological materials for an art exhibit protesting U.S. government food policies.
U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara ruled that a mail and wire fraud indictment brought nearly four years ago against Steven Kurtz, a University at Buffalo professor, was “insufficient on its face.”
Kurtz is a founding member of the Critical Art Ensemble, which has used human DNA and other biological materials in works meant to draw attention to political and social issues. His arrest drew international attention, with artists in several countries protesting the charges as an intrusion on artistic freedom.
He became the target of a federal terrorism investigation in May 2004 when firefighters found the materials — two kinds of bacteria — and equipment they deemed suspicious after a 911 call to his home. Kurtz had called to report that his wife was dead from an apparent heart attack.
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