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US to pay anthrax attack victim's family $2.5m

Five people died and 17 others fell ill as a result of the anthrax letter campaign in 2001.

File photo of a hazardous material team outside Capitol Hill in the US in October 2001.
File photo of a hazardous material team outside Capitol Hill in the US in October 2001.
Image: RON THOMAS/AP/Press Association Images

THE US GOVERNMENT has agreed to pay $2.5 million (€1.87 million) to the family of a man who died in 2001 after inhaling anthrax in a spate of poisoning attacks in 2001.

The family of George Stevens, a tabloid photo editor in Florida, had claimed the government was negligent in failing to prevent the creation of weapons-grade anthrax at a US army medical research facility in Maryland that was used to kill Stevens.

The government has agreed to pay out to Stevens’ family, but has not admitted fault. According to documents seen by the AP, his widow Maureen Stevens has dropped all over claims arising from her husband’s death.

Stevens passed away on 5 October 2001, the first of five people to die in a spate of anthrax attacks a decade ago. Seventeen other people became ill as a result of the anthrax letter campaign.

After a length investigation code-named ‘Amerithrax’, the FBI concluded that US government scientist Dr Bruce Ivins was solely responsible for planning and carrying out the attacks, but Ivins died by suicide in 2008 before charges were filed. A number of his colleagues at the medical research facility have raised doubts over his involvement in the attacks.

The FBI said its joint investigation with the US Postal Inspection Service and the Justice Department involved interviewing over 10,000 witnesses across six continents and the recovery of over 6,000 pieces of potential evidence.

The case was declared officially closed in February 2010.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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