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Long Sought Eco-Sabotage Suspect Surrenders


A decade on the lam has ended for a suspect in a string of eco-sabotage attacks across the American West.  Alleged Earth Liberation Front fugitive Rebecca J. Rubin turned herself in at the Canadian border Thursday morning. 

Later in the day, she showed little emotion during a brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Outside the federal courthouse, defense attorney Richard Troberman explained why Rubin surrendered.  "She really wants to move her life forward without these impediments. It was just time," said Troberman.

FBI agents were waiting when 39-year-old Rubin drove up to the U.S. border at Blaine, Washington. The Canadian fugitive was arrested there for conspiracy to commit around 20 arsons spanning five Western states. The shadowy Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front took credit for the arson spree, which ended in 2001.

Assistant US Attorney Stephen Peifer says Rubin's surrender after a decade at large was "pre-arranged."

"We knew of course she is a Canadian citizen and likely was in Canada during that time... There was an ongoing search. Now with the help of her attorney, she did turn herself in."

Peifer alleges Rubin took part in arsons at the Vail ski resort in Colorado and at federal wild horse holding facilities near Burns, Oregon and Susanville, California, among others. Two suspected co-conspirators remain at large among nearly twenty people charged for acts of eco-sabotage attributed to the cell of radical environmentalists.  One of the suspects still at large, Joseph Dibbee, is believed to have fled to Syria.

Rubin's defense attorney declined to say where the fugitive hid out in Canada or how the former wildlife researcher supported herself since 2001.  Rubin did not appear to have changed her physical appearance much to evade capture.   For years, the FBI circulated a picture of her with long, brown hair on a "Most Wanted" poster that described her as a domestic terrorism suspect.  The captured fugitive who appeared in court resembled the poster image, except she wore her hair shorter with bangs.

On the Web:

Rebecca Rubin Wanted Poster (FBI)

KUOW's Allie Ferguson contributed to this report.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.