Seattle Police Asked to Investigate UW’s Destruction of Records

For Immediate Release:
February 24, 2022

Contact:
Tasogla Bruner 202-483-7382

Seattle PETA has called on Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz to investigate the University of Washington’s (UW) Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) for an apparent felony violation of state law in which it destroyed videos and photographs of primates used for experimentation. In December 2021, the King County Superior Court held the primate center liable based on its destruction of the records.

The court’s ruling was part of PETA’s lawsuit against UW for its refusal to turn over videos and photographs of monkeys used by experimenters at WaNPRC. Senior WaNPRC personnel—experimenters Elizabeth Buffalo and Eberhard Fetz and the facility’s interim director, Sally Thompson-Iritani—admitted under oath to the center’s policy of systemic destruction of these videos and photographs. This policy makes it impossible for the university to comply with the state’s Public Records Act, which mandates disclosure of public records to preserve transparency and accountability by public officials and institutions. The judge in the case stated, “The lack of any policy/system which identified videos/photos which are being destroyed prevents [UW] from complying with the requirements of the [Public Records Act].” It also appears to violate another state law that criminalizes “injury to [a] public record.”

“WaNPRC experimenters would rather risk breaking the law than risk allowing the public to see what they do to monkeys in their laboratories,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the Seattle Police Department to take immediate action and, if warranted, file charges against anyone who destroyed public records.”

PETA also filed a complaint today with the Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), alleging that the WaNPRC violated the Record Retention and Access section of the NIH Grants Policy Statement by destroying the records and apparently flouting state law. PETA is asking for an investigation, repayment of the millions of taxpayer dollars used to fund these hidden experiments, and the permanent barring of WaNPRC from receiving future federal grant awards.

For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and investigative reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind