- The Washington Times - Friday, August 15, 2003

The bioweapons expert who made headlines in the FBI’s anthrax investigation brought two high-powered lawyers to fight a $5 ticket in D.C. traffic court yesterday — and still lost.

Steven J. Hatfill tried to get the ticket issued for “walking to create a hazard” on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown dropped. He said he was in the street attempting to take a picture of FBI agents tailing him when they then drove over his foot.

One of Mr. Hatfill’s lawyers, who produced photos of a foot with purple bruises on it, said the $5 ticket was “reflective of a bigger problem of unrelenting harassment of Steven Hatfill by the FBI.”

Asked whether charges will be filed against the bureau, Mr. Hatfill’s pro-bono attorney Thomas Connolly said: “That’s an idea.”

But, “unlike the FBI, I don’t tell you what I’m going to do two months ahead of time,” he added.

The hearing at the D.C. Center for Traffic Adjudication Services attracted a throng of reporters and marked the latest in a string of events that have surrounded Mr. Hatfill.

The FBI has never called him a suspect in its investigation into who mailed the deadly anthrax-packed letters to media outlets in Florida and New York, and to two senators on Capitol Hill in October 2001. Five persons died, and 17 were severely sickened by the anthrax.

The Justice Department referred to him last year as one among several people of interest in the anthrax probe, and when the FBI conducted repeated searches of his apartment last year, Mr. Hatfill was pushed to the center of new coverage of the investigation.

Meanwhile, the bureau was said to be keeping him under 24-hour surveillance.

In traffic court, Mr. Hatfill argued that a D.C. police officer wrongly issued him the ticket May 17.

He said he had parked his car and stepped into the street to take pictures of several cars that were following him. The driver of one of the cars, who was recording Mr. Hatfill with a video camera, suddenly stepped on the gas, rolling over Mr. Hatfill’s foot and knocking him to the pavement.

The D.C. police officer who issued Mr. Hatfill the ticket testified that the driver of the car was an FBI agent conducting surveillance. The officer said he reviewed the video recording of what had occurred and decided to clear the agent and issue Mr. Hatfill the ticket.

“If he had been on the sidewalk, none of this would have happened,” the officer said.

The judge overseeing the traffic hearing upheld the $5 fine.

Mr. Hatfill, who appeared with freshly cropped hair and wearing his trademark crisp blue suit, kept one of his knees bobbing steadily beneath a table during the hearing.

He spoke once to say he denied the charge, and he declined to comment afterward, leaving it up to one of his attorney’s to criticize the FBI before the reporters. “Of course the FBI agent who ran him down received nothing,” Mr. Connolly said. “That’s the way the game’s played. Is it fair? No.”

The bureau’s interest in Mr. Hatfill apparently stems from work he did at the Army’s biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., for two years, until 1999. Although another job he took with defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. may also play a role.

Working as a senior scientist with the SAIC until March 2002, Mr. Hatfill was reportedly involved in building mock biological weapons labs to train special operations personnel on what to look for in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

No charges have been filed, and Mr. Hatfill continues to deny involvement in the anthrax attacks. He called a news conference at one point last summer, when interest in him was peaking and he’d been fired from a job at Louisiana State University. Through teary eyes, he announced that the FBI had ruined his life.

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