Two animal rights activists found guilty of breaking into a fur farm and releasing 2,000 mink have lost an appeal against their conviction.
Kevin Johnson and Tyler Lang had their plea thrown out by a Chicago court in the United States.
Johnson was jailed for three years Lang sentenced to six month home confinement after the incident in 2013.
They broke into a farm in Morris, Illinois before relaxing the animals into the wild.
They also removed fencing to help the mink escape, destroyed cards to identify their breed, and spray-painted “Liberation is Love” on a barn, causing between $120,000 and $200,000 of damage.
Their appeal claimed their conviction was unconstitutional.
But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago refused to dismiss the indictment an upheld their convictions on the grounds both men from California had violated the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).
Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams said the 2006 law did not violate the First Amendment by criminalising speech or conduct that causes damage only to an animal enterprise’s profits or goodwill.
She also rejected the defendants’ claim that the law’s name deprived them of due process by effectively branding them “terrorists” for their non-violent activity.
“Congress was concerned about actions by extremists such as arson and bombings. Both of those crimes involve destruction of property and are extremely violent,” Williams wrote. “The word ‘terrorism’ certainly bears a rational relationship to many of the acts covered by theAETA.”