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Greenpeace Activist Flies To US To Face Jail

Greenpeace Activist Voluntarily Flies To US To Face Up To 6 Years In Jail

Los Angeles - 10am Tuesday 31st October 2001.

New Zealand based Greenpeace activist Henk Haazen will fly from Auckland to Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday (October 31) to turn himself in to the FBI and face charges carrying up to six years in jail for his involvement in a peaceful protest against the Star Wars programme in July (1).

Dutch born Haazen will join fourteen other Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists who were arrested by the FBI following a peaceful protest against a Star Wars missile test at Vandenberg Airforce Base in California on July 14th(2). The test was delayed by forty minutes.

He was not amongst those arrested after the protest and as no charges were brought against him he subsequently left the country on his scheduled flight. In late August, a second indictment was issued with a 'John Doe' named and he promptly contacted an American attorney to prepare his return. On October 16th, after Henk's lawyer contacted the US government, the prosecution issued a third indictment covering the case charging Haazen in connection with the protest.

Although the charge is not extradictable, Henk has decided to voluntarily travel to the US to face trial with the other activists. The trial is currently scheduled for November 20th 2001.

A long time Greenpeace activist, Haazen sailed to Moruroa in 1992, and 1995, as part of a peace flotilla calling for an end to French nuclear testing. He was an engineer on board the Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed by the French secret service in 1985 in Auckland harbour. In 1987 he was the logistics coordinator responsible for setting up an Antarctic base camp, as part of Greenpeace's "World Park Antarctica" campaign. A 50- year international moratorium on the exploitation of Antarctica was subsequently declared in1991.

Explaining why he is voluntarily coming forward Henk said: "Once it was clear I would be charged I had to return and face trial. I feel as strongly today about Star Wars as I did on July 14th and facing up to the consequences of our actions and explaining them is a fundamental principle of Greenpeace."

“Charging people with a felony and up to six years in jail for a peaceful protest is ludicrous. Although going to jail is scary, I refuse to be intimidated by such a blatant attempt to block opposition to Star Wars and stifle peaceful protest.”

He added: "Star Wars is a massive waste of money and human potential. If allowed to go ahead it could kick start a whole new arms race, and I don't think any country really wants or can afford that. I don't believe that the only way to live together on this planet is to say you better not mess with me because I have the biggest guns. We have to stand up to those vested powers that keep pouring our money and our children's future into systems that will threaten their security instead of protecting it."

Both his partner Bunny and their 13-year-old daughter Ruby support Henk in his decision.

For more information about the ‘Star Wars 17’, including Henk’s biography visit http://www.stopstarwars.org

EDITOR’S NOTES: Haazen's departs Auckland airport on an Air NZ6 flight at 6pm on Wednesday October 31st and arrives 9am Los Angeles (LAX), also on Oct 31st. He will be immediately taken into custody by the FBI and transferred to the Los Angeles Court Authorities. Boththe activists and the freelance journalists, documenting the protest face the following charges:

Conspiring to willfully and knowingly violate an order and direction from a Captain of the Port of the U.S. Coast Guard regarding a safety zone, knowingly enter Vandenberg Air Force Base without permission, and aiding and abetting each other - a Class D felony with a maximum six year prison term and $250,000 fine.

Wilfully and knowingly violating an order and direction of a Captain of the Port of the U.S. Coast Guard - a Class D felony with a maximum six year prison term and $250,000 fine.

Knowingly entering Vandenberg Air Force Base without permission - a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

If found guilty on all counts the sentences are likely to be served concurrently. The defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges. It is the first time in history that peaceful protestors at Vandenberg Air Force Base have been charged with felonies.

(2) Previously fifteen Greenpeace activists faced trial, however charges were later dropped against one US activist Bill Hebert.

Following their arrest the activists and journalists, who include American, Indian, Australian, German, Swedish, British and Canadian nationals were taken to a high security federal penitentiary at Bakersfield, California. The US nationals were granted bail immediately, but the foreign nationals were denied bail and held for up to ten days before being released. All had their passports seized and the US nationals were restricted to their Home State and the foreign nationals restricted to Central California. These restrictions were only amended on October 16th, when the foreign nationals were granted permission to leave the country in advance of the trial after additional bonds were posted.


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