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Source: Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation
Published: October 29,1999 Author: Company Press Release

Friday October 29, 1:57 pm Eastern Time

Company Press Release

SOURCE: Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation

Previously Sealed FBI Investigation Exposes The Real Truth Behind the Movie 'The Insider'

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation today issued the following statement:

Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation said today that a previously sealed FBI investigation uncovered by the news media ``has now exposed the truth behind the soon to be released film 'The Insider' and shows that the government's key witness lied to federal agents and fabricated death threats. ''The question now,`` said Brown & Williamson, ''is how can Disney continue to promote a film based on fabrications and lies?``

The FBI investigation also raises serious questions about the actions of CBS ``60 Minutes'' producer Lowell Bergman and the U.S. Justice Department's five-year investigation of the tobacco industry.

The FBI's conclusions are outlined in the affidavit of an FBI agent responsible for investigating the 1996 Jeffrey Wigand death threat. Wigand, a former Brown & Williamson employee, is being portrayed in the soon-to-be- released film as a hero and ``the key witness on the biggest public health reform issue in U.S. history.'' In the affidavit, the FBI concludes that Wigand faked death threats and placed a bullet in his own mailbox. The agent found probable cause that Wigand committed a crime and as a result was seeking a search warrant of Wigand's home.

The FBI agent's sworn affidavit includes a forensic analysis of Wigand's home computer by the FBI's crime laboratory in Washington, D.C. The document states that ``subsequent examination revealed fragmentary portions of the threat message were stored on the hard drive of Wigand's Compaq Presario 150 personal computer.''

The FBI also reported that a CBS ``60 Minutes''-hired bodyguard apparently used Wigand's computer to type a copy of the threat letter and that it ``appeared to (the CBS-hired bodyguard) to be an exact match to a copy of the threat letter.''

The FBI's sworn affidavit concludes that Wigand's official statement to the FBI was ``untrue and misleading and in violation of'' federal law that makes it a crime to lie to a federal investigator.

``While Brown & Williamson has emphatically stated that we did not threaten Wigand or his family in any way, many media reports and Wigand himself have implied that Brown & Williamson was behind the threats. In fact, we think the Hollywood film, 'The Insider' accuses Brown & Williamson of this and has invented scenes in the movie to dramatize such threats,'' the company said.

``As far back as April 1998, we informed Disney and Touchstone Films that Brown & Williamson did not threaten Wigand. Last summer, we sent to them copies of investigative journalism reports that quoted Wigand's wife as stating the threatening messages were 'total fiction.' And now this morning, we have sent copies of the FBI's sworn affidavit to Disney and Touchstone with the expectation that they will cease from falsely and maliciously portraying Brown & Williamson as threatening Wigand.

``Based on the information now available from the unsealed FBI document, we think the public, the news media, and most of all Brown & Williamson, deserves answers to a number of questions:

* Why was Wigand not charged with this crime of lying to the FBI? Who made that decision - and why?

* Did the fact that the Justice Department was depending on Wigand as its star witness influence a decision to not take any action on this criminal activity?

* Did Attorney General Janet Reno participate in the decision not to prosecute Wigand?

* Who in the Justice Department knew about the FBI's conclusion that Wigand faked the death threat and lied to the FBI?

* Lowell Bergman was the producer for CBS' "60 Minutes" and the person in charge of the infamous interview of Wigand, whose actions are now the subject of the Hollywood film "The Insider." When the CBS-hired bodyguard concluded on January 25, 1996 that the death threat letter was a match with one coming from Wigand's own computer, why didn't Bergman insist that this be explained to the public in the "60 Minutes" broadcast on February 4, 1996 which touted the death threats?

* Why was the CBS-hired bodyguard instructed to "take no further action on determining the source of the threatening communication?" Who gave him this instruction?

* What did Lowell Bergman know about Jeffrey Wigand fabricating his own death threat - and when did he know it?

* Now that Disney has this information, will they still persist in making false and defamatory death-threat scenes just to sell tickets?

* Should Disney shareholders be concerned that their company is knowingly running false and defamatory statements about another company just to promote a film?

For a copy of the complete FBI affidavit, visit

SOURCE: Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation


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