Judge Delays Defamation Suit by "Person of Interest" in Anthrax Investigation

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A judge is delaying a lawsuit against the government by Doctor Steven Hatfill. He's the bioterrorism expert who says law enforcement officials ruined his reputation by naming him a "person of interest" in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The judge has agreed to a government request to delay trial preparations until October. He'll rule later on whether to dismiss the suit altogether.

Hatfill says Attorney General John Ashcroft and others mentioned his name to divert attention from a lack of suspects. He's the only person identified in the probe.

Hatfill is suing for an unspecified amount of money, and to clear his name. He alleges the Justice Department got him fired from a research job. He says he's since been unable to find work in his field.

Hatfill denies any link to the anthrax-laced envelopes that killed five people and sickened 17 others.