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Novartis (NYSE:NVS) has had trouble for years with animal rights activists, and now things are getting nastier than ever:

Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella says the people who burned down his holiday home and defiled his family's graves are not criminals but "terrorists" beyond dialogue.

In an interview with the SonntagsBlick newspaper, the 55-year-old chief executive said the attacks have changed his life and that more needs to be done to rein in the animal-rights extremists believed responsible for the "wicked" acts.

Last week Vasella's home in Austria was set on fire. In July his mother's urn was stolen and his dead 19-year-old sister's grave was desecrated. Crosses bearing his name and that of his wife were placed in a Chur cemetery. Workers' cars have been torched and angry graffiti sprayed on walls.

"How far do things have to go before you can speak of terrorism?" Vasella told the newspaper.

I'd say that's far enough, definitely. If that's not being done with intent to terrorize, then what? One idiotic part of the whole business is that the protesters seem to be trying to get Novartis to stop working with Huntingdon Life Sciences, the British animal testing company. (Similar tactics have been used elsewhere). But Novartis says that they currently have no relationship at all with HLS, and haven't for several years.

Mere statements of dull fact, though, won't make a dent in the self-righteousness of the sorts of people who think that spray-painting gravestones is a blow for justice.

Source: Animal Rights Activists Take Anti-Novartis Protest Too Far