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    Man wanted in Oregon on arson charges seeks refugee status in Canada

    canada.com Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    VANCOUVER (CP) - A man who was once on the FBI's most wanted list revealed Wednesday that he is claiming refugee status in Canada.

    Michael Scarpitti, who goes by the name Tre Arrow, appeared before a Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator to make the claim.

    Scarpitti is wanted in Oregon over accusations that he set fire to logging and cement trucks in 2001.

    An acquaintance, David Barbarash, a political activist who has been charged in the past, said Scarpitti was being treated unfairly by authorities in the U.S.

    "I think he's being unfairly and inappropriately maligned for his environmental views," said Barbarash.

    "The U.S. government and FBI have branded Tre a terrorist because he believes in fundamental ecological principles."

    A year ago, legal proceedings were dropped against Barbarash.

    The Crown filed a notice of abandonment in B.C. Supreme Court concerning Barbarash, a former Animal Liberation Front spokesperson.

    Police raided his Courtenay, B.C., in July 2002 and seized two laptop computers, 50 computer discs and about 100 videotapes.

    The RCMP subsequently dropped the case.

    Scarpitti's appearance at the hearing was a reflection of the lengthy hunger strike he 's been conducting while in custody.

    He appeared frail and gaunt as he entered the hearing room in handcuffs.

    His lawyer, Rudolph Kischer, told adjudicator LeeAnn King that his client would make a refugee claim.

    Immigration lawyer Jim Murray successfully argued that the hearing be held in private.

    "If the proceedings are made public it could prejudice his claim."

    Barbarash told reporters that Scarpitti had legally changed his name to Tre Arrow but "the Canadian government doesn't seem to want to recognize that."

    Scarpitti was arrested in Victoria last month for allegedly shoplifting some bolt-cutters.

    For 19 months, he was one of the most wanted fugitives in America.

    Scarpitti is among four people charged with setting logging trucks on fire outside Portland on June 1, 2001, to protest a planned timber cut on Mount Hood.

    Copyright 2004 Canadian Press

    To be a protester of something is one thing, to cause willful damage to property is a punishable action......
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