Animal Liberation Activist Daniel McGowan released from prison!


In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was sentenced to seven years in prison. More about Daniel at the following website:

Daniel was released from prison in December 2012.




Daniel grew up in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York, youngest and only brother to three older sisters. His father was a transit officer for the New York Police Department (NYPD) and his mother worked in an elementary school cafeteria. As a teenager he attended Christ the King High School and was active on the cross-country and track team. After high school, Daniel attended SUNY Buffalo, double majored in Business Administration and Southeast Asian studies, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1996. Following his graduation, Daniel spent several months exploring Thailand, putting into practice the language he had learned as a student and getting a better understanding of the region’s history and culture. After his travels, Daniel returned to New York and began working in both paid and volunteer positions for numerous environmental and non-profit organizations. In 1998, Daniel moved out of New York to live in the beautiful Northwest and was an asset to environmental and social justice projects in every community he spent time in. He spent several months in Canada, visiting friends as well as spending time with indigenous people in hopes of learning about other cultures firsthand.


In 2002, Daniel returned home to New York. He had missed the East Coast and was looking forward to being closer to his family and spending more time with them. He also returned to be with Jenny, a woman he had met on one of his visits home, who continues to be his loving wife and partner. In New York, Daniel has held a number of professional positions. He had worked as a full-time web and office administrator for Rainforest Foundation US (founded by Sting and Trudie Styler). Daniel has been active in projects to educate people about rainforest preservation, national forest protection and biodiversity. He also worked on a temporary basis for the Brooklyn Museum of Art, assisting in their Development department.


During the Republican National Convention in NYC in 2004, Daniel publicly organized events in protest of the convention. His efforts included fundraising, event planning, web design, and publicizing demonstrations, forums and meetings of progressive grassroots organizations. He was interviewed and photographed for a number of national publications, including Rolling Stone and The New York Times.


In the fall of 2005, Daniel entered a graduate program at Tri-State College of Acupuncture in order to earn his Master’s degree. In recent months, Daniel devoted countless hours to studying for his courses, he received outstanding scores on all of his tests and quizzes, and he often shared his excitement about medicine and healing the human body with friends. In just a few months, he had established strong bonds with his fellow classmates and much of the faculty. Daniel’s endless desire to help people has driven his success in school. He wants to be able to provide medical care for anyone, regardless of their financial abilities. His goal is to be able to practice acupuncture on a sliding scale, or even for free, to those in need. If you know Daniel, he has most likely talked to you about coming into the school’s clinic for free or affordable acupuncture sessions. He never left home without brochures from his school’s clinic in hopes he could help out someone he came across that day.


In addition to attending a full-time graduate program, Daniel was working part-time at, where he was arrested. This non-profit organization helps women in domestic abuse situations to navigate the legal system through extensive online resources. Daniel was responsible for updating their website and solving technical problems.


With whatever time Daniel had left in his week, he also contributed to helping out with events around the city, such as the „really, really free markets“ set up at a church in the East Village where people could bring and take anything they wanted all day long.


As busy as he has always been, Daniel took time to hang out at home with a movie. Some of his favorites: Young Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello flicks, Office Space, Cruel Intentions, Lord of the Rings, and any movie with a super-hero in it. He watches the animated Legend of Sleepy Hollow every Halloween, and listens to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack every Christmas. We were saddened that last Christmas he was not able to do so, let alone hear any music.


One of the most cherished people in Daniel’s life is his niece (the cute little girl in a number of pictures on the site). He loves her more than anything else in the world and was the second person to visit her in the hospital when she was born. Daniel even created a website for her so that friends and relatives who do not live nearby could see recent pictures of her easily. He always made a point to visit his niece when he had time off from work and school and is excited when asked to baby-sit. In fact, the day he was arrested he had plans to go visit her after work. She is truly the light of his life.


Daniel is one of the most wonderful, expressive, caring, thoughtful and compassionate people in this world. His compassionate nature had driven him to do support work for political prisoners, and his dedication to this work makes it all the more moving that we have been called to provide the same support for him.



What happened?

On December 7, 2005 federal agents went to the offices of to arrest Daniel. No one understood what the charges were initially and did not know what was to happen the following few months. Daniel was taken in handcuffs from his job and brought to Metropolitan Correctional Center [MCC] in lower Manhattan.


That night, while he was in custody, federal agents raided the East Village apartment of Daniel and his wife. They turned most of the place upside down and walked out with many of their possessions including computers, personal photographs, tax papers, all of Daniel’s school textbooks and homework, videotapes, DVDs and more. Because no one was home at the time, neighbors of Daniel’s demanded to see proper identification and paperwork from the federal agents to OK the search. The agents told neighbors they were investigating a „domestic terrorism“ case. Although government officials and media have carelessly used this term, this is not a terrorism case. (Almost a year into the case, the prosecution announced their plans to fight at sentencing for a „terror enchancement“ at the change of plea hearing in November, 2006.) Despite this, while jailed at MCC, Daniel was not allowed to use the phone and he was held on what guards called ‚the terror wing‘.


On December 8, 2005, Daniel appeared in the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Dozens of friends and family were there in a show of support and sat in on the hearing. Objections raised by Daniel’s attorney at court extended the hearing to an additional day. A judge in Oregon had signed off on Daniel’s search and arrest warrant under a provision of the USA Patriot Act. Despite Daniel’s family offering to put up a significant amount of money and property to secure his release so that he could fly to Oregon unescorted to face charges, the judge ruled in favor of removal to Oregon and he remained in federal custody. Completely unlike what one might see on TV, Daniel was unable to communicate a single word to anyone aside from his lawyer in court.


Daniel spent the next 14 days in transit across the United States at various federal detention centers. His family and friends did not know where he was or when he would arrive in Oregon. He was flown across the country in stages, first to Oklahoma, then to California, and finally to FCI Sheridan. He was shackled at the ankles and wrists throughout the flights. On December 21, he was arraigned in Oregon. From December 21 to January 3, he was kept on suicide watch because of a co-defendant’s suicide in jail. Daniel was designated Maximum 1 status for much of the time he was housed at Lane County Corrections in Eugene, Oregon. The jail refused to provide a vegetarian diet despite many and varied attempts to request food he could eat. On Christmas Day, Daniel spoke to his wife on the phone for the first time since the morning of December 7th.


Daniel’s detention hearing was on January 25, 2006, in front of Judge Aiken. He was granted release on $1.6 million on bail which was put up by his family. The judge received over 75 letters in support of Daniel’s release on bail. Because of bureaucratic procedures and paperwork, Daniel waited until February 8th before he was released from jail.


Daniel was on house arrest for seven months in his sister’s NYC apartment, which he shared with her, his brother-in-law, his niece and his wife. Last summer he was allowed to attend a few short classes which will count towards his Master’s program in acupuncture.


On November 9, 2006, after months of negotiations and consideration, Daniel, along with Jonathan Paul, Joyanna Zacher and Nathan Block, pled guilty to some of the many charges. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison on June 4, 2007 and began serving his time on July 2, 2007. Daniel has been accepted to a liberal arts graduate program at an accredited university and intends to complete a Master’s degree in Sociology while imprisoned in order to be in the best possible place upon release from prison. He has been designated to a low security level facility in Minnesota.


For more information on Daniel’s background, please go here.


What were Daniel’s original charges and the proposed sentencing?

He was charged with 2 counts of conspiracy to commit arson, 14 counts of arson (each carry a 5 year mandatory minimum) and 2 counts of use or possession of a destructive device. If he went to trial and was found guilty of one of these two latter charges, Daniel faced a 30 year mandatory minimum sentence. If found guilty of two, Daniel faced a MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCE.


Was anyone hurt in any of these actions?

It is important to note that no human or animal was injured at all in any of the incidents. There is absolutely no evidence that the incidents were intended to harm anyone.


Why was he charged on the federal level, not state?

Daniel was being charged on the federal level because the incidents took place at corporations that engage in interstate commerce.


Does the plea agreement mean Daniel is guilty?

Daniel has admitted his guilt in the two arsons he was charged with – the fire at Jefferson Poplar and the fire at Superior Lumber. The government dropped the charges that he used destructive devices.


Can I read Daniel’s plea agreement?

Yes. You can download Daniel’s Plea Agreement here. This document was made available to the public right after the plea hearing on Novembr 9, 2006.

On November 9, 2006, after months of negotiations and consideration, Daniel, along with Jonathan Paul, Joyanna Zacher and Nathan Block, pled guilty to some of the many charges. We cannot emphasize enough what an extremely difficult decision this was for Daniel and we will continue to give him our full support.


We do not want there to be any confusion about Daniel’s plea agreement so we have posted it on the site. Daniel agreed to plead guilty with the understanding that he would not implicate or identify anyone at all other than himself. The other three remaining co-defendants entered pleas with the same terms. Daniel has done everything possible to maintain his integrity, and he wants to be as open about his agreement as possible. You can read Daniel’s statement to Judge Aiken and Daniel’s lawyers‘ statement here.


What exactly did Daniel do?

Daniel was a lookout on one of the incidents, and he helped set the fire at the other incident.


What sentence was Daniel facing?

Daniel’s lawyers asked for a sentence of no more than 63 months, or no more than 18 months higher than what Daniel’s co-defendant, Suzanne Savoie, receives, whichever is less. Ms. Savoie has entered pleas to the same charges as Mr. McGowan. The only difference between Ms. Savoie and Mr. McGowan, in this case, is that Ms. Savoie is cooperating with the government, while Mr. McGowan is not.


On June 4, 2007, Judge Aiken sentenced Daniel to 7 years in prison.


Why did Daniel agree to a longer sentence than Ms. Savoie?

Daniel recognizes that because he has chosen to honor his principles and not cooperate in the government’s investigation, he will probably serve more time than some of the defendants who agreed to cooperate. Whether or not this is fair is a question for a different day. Daniel accepts it. He agreed to terms with the government that essentially include a premium for his decision not to cooperate.


Why was it important to Daniel to not cooperate? Did it really matter? Didn’t the government already have all the evidence?

For Daniel, this is a matter of principle. It is a matter that goes to his integrity. He walked away from these kinds of actions a long time ago. He made a decision that even if he ever chose to talk about what he personally did, what he might know about other people would go with him to the grave.


Did Daniel talk to the government at all?

Yes. As part of his agreement, he told government investigators about his own personal role in these actions. He answered questions about what he, personally, did. He did not disclose any information that would identify, or tend to incriminate another person, whether directly or indirectly. This is spelled out in the plea agreement, which is available to the public.


Why did the government agree to a reduced sentence if he would not cooperate?

The government agrees in many cases to reduced sentences for defendants who do not provide full cooperation. In this case, what the remaining four defendants did was to help the government resolve the entire case by all coming forward at once and agreeing to admit to their personal responsibility. This was of enormous benefit to the government in resolving this case without a trial and perhaps sparing the government from sharing information it did not want to share with the defense.


What was the agreement with the government about the NSA motion?

The government made dropping the motion and abandoning the request for any kind of a response an absolute condition of resolving the case without a trial. We have no more information about the existence of NSA surveillance of Daniel today than we did when we requested the information originally.


When was Daniel sentenced?

He was sentenced to 7 years in prison on June 4, 2007 and began serving his time on July 2, 2007 at MDC Brooklyn. He was designated to a low security prison in Minnesota, quite far from home.


What is „eco-terrorism“?

This is a term that was created by ‚Wise Use‘ founder and extreme anti-environmentalist Ron Arnold of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise with the intention of turning people against environmentalists. Ron Arnold, along with creating the word ‚eco-terrorism‘ has also stated, „We want to destroy environmentalists by taking away their money and their members,“ [New York Times, December 1991] and „Our goal is to destroy, to eradicate the environmental movement … We‘re mad as hell. We‘re not going to take it anymore. We‘re dead serious – we‘re going to destroy them,“ [Toronto Star, 1991]. Calling someone an „eco-terrorist“ is like the former use of the word „communist“. It is not intended to spur debate on the topic but instead to scare potential supporters away from the case.


As many supporters of Daniel are New Yorkers, many feel this is a horrible insult to the victims of the real terrorism that many witnessed on 9/11 and affected them very personally. While Ron Arnold and the corporations that fund his reactionary form of public relations use the word quite liberally, Daniel’s family and friends abhor the use of the term as it cheapens the very real terror that exists in this world whether it is fundamentalists targeting people or governments bombing people.


What kind of activist work has Daniel done?

For the last 8 years, Daniel has been involved in many different campaigns struggling for social justice, protection of the environment and human rights. He has worked for non-profits that focus on national forest protection, rainforest conservation and the rights of indigenous people. Most recently, Daniel worked on counter-recruitment as a proactive response to the government’s wars. He helped organize a picket of a local military recruitment center in his old neighborhood in Brooklyn and passed out literature to high school kids that explained many non-military options for paying for college. Daniel also helped organize ‚really, really free markets‘ in NYC which are markets where everything (food, clothes, services, books, etc) are free and available to all. In 2003-4, Daniel was one of a group of people who created and maintained a website, which was a hub for organizing against the hosting of the Republican party convention in Daniel’s hometown. He attended many meetings, hosted fundraisers and conducted media interviews with national and international publications. When he was arrested, Daniel was employed as a webmaster for, an organization that operates a website with resources on domestic violence. Daniel’s activism has been very public, and demonstrates his deep commitment to human dignity and environmental protection.


What can I do to help?

Get more information about setting up outreach events, donating to Daniel’s legal and education funds, and spreading the word about the case here.

We hope that this helps answer any questions you may have had. Thanks for the support.


„Green Scare“ Defendants

The term „Green Scare,“ alluding to the Red Scare of the 1940s and ’50s, refers to legal and extralegal actions taken by the U.S. government against environmental and animal rights activists. Like the Red Scare, the Green Scare uses new laws and new arms of the state to harshly punish a few individuals in order to repress an entire movement.


In December 2005, government agents carried out a nationwide sweep of arrests, charging fourteen individuals with actions claimed by the Earth Liberation Front and/or Animal Liberation Front in the Northwestern U.S. dating back to the mid-90’s. The actions include a 1997 fire that destroyed a horse slaughterhouse in Oregon (the plant was not rebuilt), and fires that destroyed pens and chutes at Bureau of Land Management wild horse holding compounds in Oregon, Wyoming and California (horses were also freed during the actions). Despite no injury caused to any living being, a judge determined that some of the arsons constituted „terrorism“ under Federal Sentencing Guidelines.


In November 2006, Nathan Block, Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul and Joyanna Zacher entered non-cooperation plea agreements in which they accepted responsibility for their own roles in environmentally-motivated property crimes, but did not agree to provide information or testify against anyone now or in the future.


Unfortunately, other individuals admitted guilt after their arrests and proceeded to provide information to the government. In order to receive reduced sentences, these individuals agreed to cooperate with the state in ongoing investigations against the environmental and animal rights movements. Those individuals are not listed here.


Nathan Block

Joyanna Zacher

In May 2012, Joyanna Zacher („Sadie“) and Nathan Block („Exile“) were released from prison and will complete their sentences at a halfway house.

In June 2007, Sadie and Exile were sentenced to 7 years and 8 months imprisonment each. For more information, please contact their support campaign:


Daniel McGowan
Daniel was released from prison in December 2012.

In June 2007, Daniel McGowan was sentenced to seven years in prison. Learn more about Daniel at the following websites:,


Jonathan Paul
Jonathan was released from prison in January 2011 and completed his sentence at a halfway house.

Jonathan Paul was sentenced to 51 months. He began his sentence in October 2007. Jonathan said as he reported to prison, „This is way bigger than us, this is for the animals and the planet, we will never suffer as much as they do.“


Justin Solondz #98291-011
FCI Loretto
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 1000
Loretto, PA 15940


In early 2009, Justin Solondz was arrested in China on local charges, more than three years after he was indicted on arson and conspiracy charges related to actions in the U.S. claimed by the ELF/ALF. In July 2011, Justin was taken into federal custody upon his expulsion from China, after completing a prison sentence. In March 2012, Justin was sentenced to seven years in prison.




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