Convicted bomber Ludwig arrested in B.C. pipeline blasts
No charges have been laid against Wiebo Ludwig, an Alberta activist convicted of bombing oil and gas wells in the 1990s who was arrested Friday in connection with recent bombings at EnCana pipelines in northeastern B.C.
"That's going to be a wait-and-see situation," said Insp. Tim Shields, media relations for the RCMP in B.C. "Charges have not been approved by Crown counsel in British Columbia and, ultimately, they are the ones who have to make that decision as to whether or not charges are going to be approved."
RCMP have not named the man they arrested early Friday in connection with the bombings.
All they said is that they arrested a man in his 50s or 60s and were conducting a large search of an Alberta farm near Hythe, Alta., about 400 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, near the B.C.-Alberta border.
Earlier in the day, Ludwig's lawyer, Paul Moreau, confirmed his client was in custody and said he expected Ludwig would be charged with extortion.
Moreau said Ludwig was arrested at a hotel in Grande Prairie, Alta., on Friday morning after going there voluntarily to meet with a senior RCMP officer.
Ludwig spent nearly two years in prison after being convicted on charges related to the bombing of oil and gas installations in Alberta in the 1990s. He sent an open letter to the EnCana pipeline bomber in September 2009, expressing his support but urging the bombings to stop.
July 30, 2009 - EnCana posts $1-million reward.
July 16, 2009 - Letter reportedly from bomber sent to Dawson Creek newspaper.
July 4, 2009 - Natural gas pipeline bombed near Pouce Coupe, B.C.
July 1, 2009 - Wellhead bombed near Pouce Coupe, B.C.
Jan. 4, 2009 - EnCana natural gas facility east of Dawson Creek, B.C. attacked
Oct. 31, 2008 - Metering shed bombed northwest of Tomslake, B.C.
Oct. 16, 2008 - Pipeline bombed off Highway 2 near B.C.-Alberta border.
Oct. 11, 2008 - Blast set off at sour-gas pipeline east of Dawson Creek, B.C.
More than a dozen officers started searching the property for evidence related to the bombings.
"We cannot say what we are looking for specifically, or what information led us to the location, but we have followed a trail of evidence that ultimately led to the execution of the search warrant," said Supt. Lloyd Plante of the RCMP's national security program in B.C.
EnCana spokesman Alan Boras said the company was pleased an arrest had been made.
"We hope this development leads to potential conclusion of these events but that remains to be seen," Boras said.
Since October 2008, there have been six pipeline bombings in the Tomslake area of British Columbia, near Dawson Creek, targeting the facilities of the Calgary-based energy company EnCana.
Before the first attack, someone sent a handwritten letter to local news media demanding a stop to oil and gas operations.
The letter called EnCana and other companies "terrorists" that are "endangering our families with crazy expansion of deadly gas wells."
The note was followed by three successive explosions, two of which caused leaks of sour gas. Reserves in the Tomslake area are mostly sour gas, which contains hydrogen sulphide that can be deadly in high concentrations if released into the air.
At the time of the sixth and most recent blast in July 2009, the RCMP labelled the attacks "domestic terrorism."
Residents of the town of Tomslake faced heightened scrutiny by the RCMP during the investigation over the past 15 months.
News of an arrest was greeted with relief by resident Ardyth Overholdt, who wrote a critical letter about the bomber to the Dawson Creek newspaper last year.
"Some people say, 'well ... that bombing wasn't that big of a deal anyway — no one got hurt,' which is a fairly odd attitude in my mind to take," she said Friday.
"So there so are those that say, 'Oh well, big deal, so what.' But for the rest of us, it's like it's a very big relief."
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to RCMP Insp. Tim Shields as a sergeant.Jan 11, 2010 5:00 AM PT
With files from The Canadian Press