Friday, March 6, 1998According to CCPJ, on the evening of 2 March 1998, Vancouver-based Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reporter Greg Rasmussen came home to find that his house had been broken into and vandalized. The break-in occurred on the same day that a special report on the Hell's Angels motorcycle club aired on CBC radio. The report, prepared by Rasmussen and Halifax reporter Kelly Ryan (f), dealt with the Hell's Angels' involvement in criminal activity. The Vancouver Police believe that Rasmussen was in all likelihood the victim of a threat by the Hell's Angels. Detective Constable Al Dalstrom, a biker gang specialist with theVancouver Police, says the damage done is consistent with the kind of intimidation used by the Hell's Angels: "The door was kicked... and more significantly, a radio was wrapped in a plastic bag and submerged in a bath tub filled with water." Dalstrom says that some of Hell's Angels' murder victims have been found in bodies of water with plastic bags around their heads. In a 4 March press conference, police said they were not optimistic they would be able to ever identify those responsible. Although police say there is not enough hard evidence to definitively link the break-in to the biker club, Dalstrom affirms that, if it was the Hell's Angel's, the message is clear: "The message would be to communicate to Greg and the CBC, cease and desist your reporting in respect of criminal activities of the Hell's Angels." On 4 March, a spokesperson for the Hell's Angels denied any involvement by the group, arguing that he himself had allowed Rasmussen to interview him. Rasmussen has been under police protection. The CBC said it would not shy away from continuing to report on the club and its activities. The CCPJ expresses grave concern, pointing out that such incidents can have a chilling effect on the press and on the public. BACKGROUND: Some police have called the Hell's Angels the most serious crime threat in Canada today. A report which aired on CBC television on 2 March detailed the extent of the Hell's Angels' activities across Canada, which include drugs and prostitution. The report cited police intelligence files which indicate the Hell's Angels' infiltration of Canadian ports, such as Halifax and Vancouver. The province of Quebec in particular has long been the scene of a violent biker turf war between the Hell's Angels and rival club the Rock Machine. In 1995, Montreal reporter Robert Monastesse was shot in the leg after reporting on the turf war (see IFEX alert of 5 January 1996). The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of CCPJ. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit CCPJ.
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