Prescription led to erroneous anthrax case

Nov. 26, 2008 at 1:12 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Documents unsealed in a U.S. federal court indicate FBI investigators initiated an erroneous case against a suspect based on certain prescriptions he filled.

Search warrant affidavits unsealed this week revealed that Steven J. Hatfill became the focus of an anthrax investigation because he had filled prescriptions for the antibiotic Cipro, used in treating anthrax victims, The New York Times said Wednesday.

Hatfill's actions came two days before the separate mailings of two anthrax-laced letters in 2001, making him a key suspect in the case.

FBI investigators also alleged Hatfill previously had access to the strain of anthrax used in the attacks, which left five people dead and injured 17 others.

Such evidence led to search warrants being served on Hatfill for his home, car and other sites. While Hatfill was never officially charged in relation to the 2001 terror attacks, he lost his job at Louisiana State University after leaks identified him as a suspect in the case.

The Times said in response to such life inconveniences, Hatfill sued the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI for releasing information regarding the case and received a $4.6 million settlement.

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