Leavitt Freed - Anthrax Determined To Be Non-Lethal Variety
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (CNN) -- One of the two men arrested for posession of what turned out to be non-lethal anthrax was released from custody Saturday evening.
William Leavitt Jr., 47, thanked God, his family, law enforcement officials, a federal magistrate judge and his lawyers for getting him out of prison on his own recognizance, saying the past three days have been the "most difficult days of my life."
Leavitt and <A HREF="">Larry Wayne Harris</A>, 46, were arrested Wednesday night and charged with conspiracy to possess and possession of a biological agent.
Leavitt's release came just hours after FBI agents raided the microbiologist's home north of Las Vegas in search of more evidence.
Pale and appearing on the verge of tears, Leavitt, a self-described medical researcher, said he has no hard feelings toward FBI investigators.
"I understand what happened, and I understand the position the FBI took based upon the information they received," Leavitt told the media just after his release from the Clark County Detention Center.
"I spent many, many hours in fasting and in prayer, and wanted the truth (to) be known."
One stipulation for Leavitt's release is that he "will not conduct or participate in any biological or biochemical treatment," according to court documents.
The FBI acknowledged earlier Saturday that test results so far show the confiscated anthrax is not the deadly military-grade version.
"We truly felt, and we feel now, that we had enough probable cause to believe there was a danger to the community," FBI agent Bobby Siller told reporters. "We had to act the way we did."
Siller, special agent in charge of the FBI's Las Vegas office, said the arrests of Leavitt and Harris were made on the basis of information from witnesses, as well as surveillance and background checks.
Residents assured they are not in danger Before their arrests, Harris and Leavitt had told more than one person that they had military-grade anthrax and planned to test it at a nearby medical center, Siller said.
Siller also reassured Las Vegas residents they are not in danger.
"There is no reason for anybody to be concerned about any contaminants in this area," Siller said.
U.S. Army experts at Fort Detrick, Maryland, concluded the substance was not a biological weapon after completing a series of tests that began Friday morning, sources told CNN. The FBI confirmed Saturday that the confiscated version is a non-lethal type that veterinarians use.
The FBI apparently also seized other material in Ohio from houses owned by Harris. That material is still being tested at Fort Detrick, and those tests will not be completed before Monday.
Police suspect Harris gave 'inoculations' Saturday, a Columbus, Ohio, police investigator said he believes Harris regularly gave some people injections that Harris claimed would protect them against biological agents.
"It's something we've suspected and can't divulge our sources, but we think he was giving inoculations," Det. Rick Adrian said.
It was unclear how long Harris offered the injections, what the shots contained or whether anyone became sick because of them.
The FBI affidavit detailing the case against Harris says he claims to be an officer in the Idaho-based white separatist group Aryan Nations.
Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national watchdog group that monitors extremist groups, told The New York Times that Harris traveled around the country, "meeting with extremist anti-government groups and inoculating them against anthrax."
Harris was previously given probation after pleading guilty to illegally obtaining bubonic plague bacteria through the mail in 1995.

Email Homepage