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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 20:10 GMT 21:10 UK
Gore Vidal defends McVeigh
The death chamber
McVeigh will be executed by lethal injection on 16 May
The American writer Gore Vidal has defended his decision to attend the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.

McVeigh invited Mr Vidal to be present at the 16 May execution after the two corresponded for more than two years.

Mr Vidal said that he shared McVeigh's feeling that government had "run amok".

He said he hoped his presence at the execution, despite his opposition to the death penalty, would be seen as a sign that "there is somebody who's not violent - that's me - who agrees" with McVeigh, Mr Vidal said on US television.

Common concerns

He said there was a "general pattern of harrassment of American people across the country" by the US Government.

Gore Vidal
Mr Vidal: Writing on the execution for Vanity Fair
Mr Vidal said he shared McVeigh's horror at the former US Attorney General who ordered the storming of a cult stronghold in Waco, Texas, in 1993, resulting in the death of more than 80 cult members.

"I'm against the death penalty, I'm against Timothy McVeigh blowing up people in Oklahoma City, but I'm even more against [former] Attorney General Janet Reno," Mr Vidal said.

The writer and political commentator is planning to write about the execution for Vanity Fair magazine.

In his opposition to the death penalty, Mr Vidal is out of step with the majority of Americans.

Four out of five Americans support the execution of Timothy McVeigh, according to a poll for the Associated Press news agency.

The same poll suggested that 28% of people opposed to the death penalty support it in McVeigh's case.

Broadcast

About half of respondents said families of the victims should be allowed to watch the execution on closed-circuit television.

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh
McVeigh's actions led to the death of 149 adults and 19 children
They will be allowed to do so.

A private company, Entertainment Network Incorporated, has sued to be allowed to broadcast the execution on the internet, but a federal judge ruled against the company on 19 April.

There have been fears that the closed-circuit broadcast will somehow be intercepted and released on the internet despite the ruling.

The US Government is working to ensure that the broadcast is secure.

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See also:

19 Apr 01 | Americas
McVeigh death banned from web
19 Apr 01 | Americas
Oklahoma marks bomb anniversary
19 Apr 01 | Talking Point
Should the world watch?
12 Apr 01 | Americas
Victims to view McVeigh execution
12 Apr 01 | Americas
Live from death row
11 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Legal battle for live execution
16 Jan 01 | Americas
Oklahoma bomber to die in May
11 Feb 01 | Americas
Bomber wants public execution
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