Despite Steven Hatfill's strong denials this weekend of any involvement in last year's fatal anthrax attacks, FBI officials told ABCNEWS today there are new questions about the former government scientist.
The FBI has not officially labeled Hatfill, 48, a suspect in the anthrax killings. But officials point to continued questions about the scientist and say they are also unable to clear him.
Perhaps most significant to the FBI, authorities say a police bloodhound reacted strongly to Hatfill and his apartment after being exposed to the scent retrieved from the anthrax letters under a new technology, reports ABCNEWS' chief investigative reporter Brian Ross.
Authorities say the bloodhound evidence does not justify an arrest warrant, but provides a lead which cannot be overlooked.
Also of interest to the FBI is a trip Hatfill made to London last Nov. 15 for a bioweapons training session sponsored by the United Nations, sources said. On that same day, an anthrax hoax letter, with harmless powder, was mailed from London to the office of Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, Hatfill, who spoke out for the first time this past weekend, says leaks from federal officials about him and the resulting media scrutiny are ruining his life. Hatfield said he was a "loyal American" who had "nothing to do with the anthrax letters," and his attorney argued that his case was similar to that of Richard Jewell, who was named as a suspect and then cleared in a bomb blast at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
The FBI has called Hatfill a "person of interest," and has conducted several searches of his home in Maryland — first with his consent and then with a search warrant. A storage facility he rented has also been searched, as well as his girlfriend's apartment.
Despite the attention Hatfill has been receiving, he is not believed to have the ability to make anthrax. The only person in the United States known to be able to make anthrax is a man named William Patrick, who is a friend of Hatfill's, sources told ABCNEWS.
Hatfill's former colleagues at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick, Md., say Hatfill worked in the same building where anthrax research was being conducted, had easy access to it and showed what one scientist called "undue" attention to it, Ross reported.
‘Person of Interest’
Hatfill, who worked at Fort Detrick from 1997 to 1999, is one of a group of scientists FBI officials have been investigating for months in the probe of the anthrax letter attacks that left five people dead and at least 13 others ill last fall.
Until last weekend, Hatfill declined to speak out in detail about the ongoing anthrax investigation.
"I am appalled at the terrible acts of biological terrorism that caused death, disease and havoc in America starting last fall, but I am just as appalled that my experience, knowledge and service relative to defending Americans against biological warfare has been turned against me in connection with the search for the anthrax killer," Hatfill said Sunday in a lengthy, prepared statement to the media.
Pat Clawson, a spokesman for Hatfill and his attorney, Victor M. Glasberg, told ABCNEWS.com before the statement that Hatfill is a private person who was not used to dealing with the media, and the statement would be the only time he addresses the press. Hatfill took no questions after his statement, though Glasberg fielded some as Hatfill stood behind him.