Vasella calls activist attacks 'terrorism'

Novartis chief Daniel Vasella (photo) says "terrorist" attacks from animal-rights activists have changed his life "markedly." And with the extremist groups threatening to continue their assaults if the company doesn't stop doing business with U.K.-based Huntingdon Life Sciences, those changes could certainly continue.

Vasella says the attacks--including a fire at his holiday home in the Tyrol, and theft and vandalism at his parents' graves--amount to terrorism. "For me, it is terrorism to propogate fear, to put targeted people under pressure with all possible and in particular illegal methods," he told a Swiss newspaper over the weekend.

Ironically, Novartis says it hasn't done business with Huntington for some time. Vasella said in an interview with SonntagsBlick that he understands the activists' sympathy for animals, but that animal testing is necessary for some aspects of drug development. "The population fully supports medical-biological research with the goal of making progress for patients," he said. "That must be respected."

Meanwhile, law enforcement has no new leads in the case, SwissInfo reports. And Vasella says the police haven't taken the attacks and threats seriously enough until now. Novartis spokesman Eric Althof told the AFP news service that the attacks have been escalating "since the end of last year."

- see the SwissInfo story
- read the news from AFP
- get the coverage in Swisster