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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 11:50 GMT
US anthrax hoax suspect arrested
FBI
Mr Waagner was on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list
A man wanted in the United States for allegedly sending letters falsely claiming to contain deadly anthrax bacteria has been arrested.

The man, Clayton Lee Waagner, claimed to have sent almost 300 hoax letters to abortion clinics in America.

Waagner, who had been on the run since he escaped from jail in February, was also wanted for a string of bank-robberies, firearms violations and car thefts.

He was captured after being recognised at a store in suburban Cincinnati.

Police said he was carrying $10,000 in cash and had a loaded handgun tucked into his waistband.

Environmental technicians at ETI International Inc learn to respond to anthrax scares
Mr Ashcroft said the hoax letters tied up resources
The US Postal Service had offered $50,000 for information that led to his capture.

Mr Waagner, a father of eight, was on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list.

The anthrax hoax letters, sent to abortion clinics across America at the height of the anthrax scare, were sent by a group describing itself as the Army of God.

God's 'warrior'

Officials said Mr Waagner allegedly claimed responsibility for the fake letters when he turned up with a gun at the house of a fellow anti-abortionist last week.

Mr Waagner was first arrested in Illinois in 1999 when he was caught driving a stolen van with four stolen handguns stuffed under the driver's seat.

At his trial, Mr Waagner said God had asked him to be his warrior and kill doctors who performed abortions.

Long sentence

US Attorney-General John Ashcroft has promised to pursue and aggressively prosecute anybody who sends anthrax threats or fake anthrax letters.

Mr Ashcroft said that, as well as creating fear and chaos, the hoax letters tied up large numbers of investigators at a time when they were needed on real anthrax attacks.

If he is convicted Mr Waagner faces a fine of up to $500,000 and a long prison sentence.

See also:

22 Oct 01 | UK
In the mind of a hoaxer
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