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FBI Searches Maryland Apartment Complex in Anthrax Investigation - 2002-08-01

Federal agents searched through trash bins near a Maryland apartment complex Thursday as part of the investigation into last year's anthrax attacks in the United States.

FBI agents wearing protective gloves sifted through trash barrels near the apartment of a former U.S. Army researcher who investigators consider a potential suspect in last year's anthrax-by-mail attacks.

Federal investigators had previously searched the apartment of former Army researcher Steven Hatfill and questioned him about the anthrax attacks. Authorities said they found no traces of anthrax in the June search and say Mr. Hatfill is not a suspect in the case but rather someone they describe as "a person of interest."

Mr. Hatfill worked for two years at Fort Detrick in Maryland, the national center for biological warfare defense research. A spokesman for the base has said Mr. Hatfill probably had access to anthrax at the facility, but that his primary duties did not involve working with anthrax.

FBI Director Robert Mueller was asked about the anthrax investigation at a Washington news conference. "Yes, we are making progress in the case. But beyond that, I can't comment on the ongoing activities of the investigation," Mr. Mueller said.

The FBI considers Steven Hatfill one of 20 to 30 scientists with the expertise and opportunity to have carried out the attacks, but they continue to say he is not a suspect.

Five people died in last year's attacks from inhaling anthrax spores sent through the mail.