It seems that being an anti-tar sands activist in the United States is getting to be a riskier business, as those opposed to the Canadian oil development have been getting unexpected visits from the FBI. The Globe and Mail reports that federal agents have been calling, texting, and even visiting the workplaces of people who were involved in protests a few years ago that delayed northbound shipments of equipment to the tar sands. As of the time of publishing this article, nobody knows exactly why it’s happening.

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Larry Hildes, a lawyer working for the protestors, says at least a dozen people in the northwest have been contacted and the actual number could be higher. “They appear to be interested in actions around the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline,” Hildes said. “It’s always the same line: ‘We’re not doing criminal investigations, you’re not accused of any crime. But we’re trying to learn more about the movement.’”

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Hildes has advised the activists against talking, and the FBI has left few clues to their motives. The agency did issue a general statement that the FBI doesn’t investigate political movements, only crimes. “The FBI has the authority to conduct an investigation when it has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual has engaged in criminal activity or is planning to do so,” FBI spokesperson Ayn Deitrich said. “This authority is based on the illegal activity, not the individual’s views.”

Despite this claim by the FBI, activists are saying all those being investigated are somehow linked to certain anti-tar sands protests. While the individuals contacted were in different groups, they all participated in what are known as “megaload” protests that involve highway blockades to disrupt massive shipments of equipment headed north of the border to the tar sands.

Via Globe and Mail

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