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Wiebo Ludwig arrested in pipeline bombings

Wiebo Ludwig arrested in pipeline bombings

By Ryan Cormier, Hanneke Brooymans and Paula Simons, edmontonjournal.com
January 8, 2010

EDMONTON — Convicted oilpatch bomber Wiebo Ludwig has been taken into custody by the RCMP in connection with the bombings of EnCana’s pipelines in Northern British Columbia, says a friend and his lawyer.

“We believe he’s been arrested,” said Richard Boonstra, a family friend who lives on the same property. “That’s all we know. We’re in the dark here.”

Boonstra said Mounties showed up at the Ludwig property around 8 a.m. and began searching.

Edmonton lawyer Paul Moreau, represented Wiebo Ludwig in his earlier criminal trial, said he received a phone call between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Friday from Ludwig’s son Bo, informing him that his father was in RCMP custody.

“I believe that he attended voluntarily at the Grande Prairie detachment this morning,” said Moreau. Moreau said the meeting had been prearranged, and that as far as he knows, Ludwig has not yet been formally charged.

Moreau said he considers himself to be representing Ludwig, but that RCMP have yet to return any of this phone calls. Moreau said the warrant for the Ludwig property allows the RCMP to search the property for up to five days. That’s highly unusual, said the lawyer, since most warrants allow police much shorter access to conduct a search.

“We cannot say what we are looking for specifically, or what information led us to the location, but we have followed a trail of evidence that ultimately led to the execution of the search warrant,” said Supt. Lloyd Plante, assistant criminal operations officer for the RCMP’s National Security Program in British Columbia.

No names have been officially released, because no one has been charged.

Ludwig is a longtime activist who claimed sour gas wells adversely affected human health, including that of his family members.

He was released from prison in 2001 after serving two-thirds of a 28-month sentence for five charges related to oilpatch bombing and vandalism.

Six bomb attacks have targeted pipelines and wellheads owned by EnCana near Dawson Creek, B.C., about 600 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. No one has been hurt so far, but police have called the bombings domestic terrorism.

An anonymous letter sent to local papers in October 2008 asked the energy giant to shut down its operations around the remote B.C. community.

A second letter sent in mid-July said EnCana had three months to close up shop or “things get a lot worse.” That three-month deadline passed at Thanksgiving with high tension in the towns of Dawson Creek and Tom’s Lake, but no new violence.

Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier said Friday he’s relieved someone is in custody. He declined to comment on the fact that it was Wiebo Ludwig because RCMP haven’t confirmed that.

“Regardless of who the person is, I’m glad the RCMP have made an arrest and I hope they can follow it up with a charge.

“Throughout this whole investigation the RCMP, for obvious reasons, have had to look at everybody and I’ve had to do the same thing … For Mr. Ludwig, obviously he’s a high profile individual in situations like this. The only thing we’ll do is hope that whatever information the RCMP have, we hope they have the right person. Then we can put this behind us.”

The search of the Ludwig property is a sharp turn for the 15-month investigation, which had seemed largely centered on the Dawson Creek area. Investigators repeatedly said that some locals were not forthcoming to police.

In October, RCMP said they did not have a “prime suspect,” only people of interest.

Ludwig became involved in the investigation last year, breaking 10 months of silence on the attacks, when he wrote an open letter to the bomber. In the letter, the activist urged the bomber to abandon his violent tactics.

“I want to encourage you not to let anger about such stupidity get the best of you and to realize that these conflicts cannot ultimately be settled by use of force, but by way of informed and patient persuasion,” Ludwig wrote. “Please give that the time it needs now.”

Ludwig’s letter also showed solidarity with the bomber’s concerns.

“You’ve truly woken a lot of people up and stimulated some very valuable discussion,” he wrote, adding that the bombings have highlighted opposition some residents feel toward gas operations in the area over safety concerns, Ludwig wrote.

While some other media had reported that one of Ludwig’s sons was in police custody, Moreau said no one from the farm had mentioned any other arrest.

Bernier said he’s starting to get reaction from residents.

“I’ve had three phone calls in the last five minutes from local people. Most people are saying, ‘Holy cow, I hope they got the right person, this is great and we don’t have to worry about this anymore.’ “

As long as they have the right person and the incidents have stopped people will be more at ease, he said.

But in the end, Bernier said he doesn’t think the bombings have stifled industry activity at all.

“Dawson Creek is sitting on top of one of the biggest gas finds in North America. Companies are not going to walk away from that because of somebody who is doing acts of terrorism.”

EnCana has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the bomber. The reward is the highest in Canada since $1 million was offered in connection with the Air India bombing that killed 329 people in 1985. .



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