The man accused of building the bomb used by Earth Liberation Front (ELF) radicals in 2001 to torch the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture is back in the U.S. and in federal custody, awaiting extradition to Washington State to stand trial.
Justin Solondz, 31, was expelled from the People’s Republic of China after serving a three-year prison term for selling drugs.
Allegedly, Mr. Solondz’s life on the lam spanned three continents, involved at least two aliases and ended in a smoky bar in one of the world’s most authoritarian countries.
Mr. Solondz’s journey started in the fall of 2005, when he joined his mother in Italy for a wedding and then traveled around Europe and Asia. His parents say he stopped communicating with them in March 2006, just before the F.B.I. announced the charges. He was indicted in absentia in 2006.
The trail went cold until March 2009, when the Chinese police arrested Mr. Solondz in the mountains of Yunnan Province after he was caught with drugs and fake Canadian identification.
Solondz was a member of a group of environmental radicals who called themselves “The Family” and was the boyfriend of Briana Waters, 35, who pleaded guilty last month to her role in setting the $6 million blaze and is expected to testify against Solondz in order to avoid any more prison time.
Mr. Solondz will appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for arraignment on charges of arson and conspiracy.
Allegedly, Mr. Solondz built the firebombs in a “clean room” behind a home in Olympia, transported them to Seattle and remained in the car as the getaway driver the night of the arson.
Federal investigators say the UW firebombing was part of a string of 17 arsons across the West by ELF and its sister organization, the Animal Liberation Front, responsible for tens of millions of dollars in damage.
The majority of this article was written by John de Leon and was published by the Seattle Times on July 6, 2011.
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