Los Angeles, California - Nine Greenpeace activists today walked free from court after pleading guilty to conspiring to trespass on a military base, during a peaceful protest against the Star Wars missile defence programme last July.
All nine were given one year probation. No fines were imposed, and all are free to return home. Each of the defendants presented powerful statements to the court prior to sentence, outlining their moral and legal objections to the programme in Los Angeles this morning (1).
Seven other defendants, including two freelance journalists will be sentenced on April 15th, after the US Attorney's office announced it may demand jail time for some or all of those remaining.
"We are very pleased these nine activists are free to go home, but the US Attorney is needlessly persecuting the remaining activists and journalists," said Greenpeace International disarmament campaigner Mike Townsley. "All have pled guilty to the same charge, all should get the same sentence and go free. There was no need to push for felony charges right at the start of this case, those charges were dropped (2). There is certainly no justification to single out some for jail time now." he added.
Notes to editors:
(1) Copies of each of the statements.
(2) The US Attorney's Office dropped the felony charges against al the defendants. All those present in court pled guilty to a misdemeanour offence of conspiring to trespass. Greenpeace in the United States has been bound by a civil injunction preventing US staff from breaking the law at military bases in the US and Marshall Islands that support the Star Wars programme for the next five years.
Sara Holden, Greenpeace International press
+ 1 202 257 5591
Carol Gregory, Greenpeace USA press officer: + 1 202 251 3998
Greenpeace International campaigner:
+1 202 255 9560
Photographs available from:
John Novis, Greenpeace
photo editor in Amsterdam:
+31 20 524 9580
Weiner, Greenpeace photo editor in Washington:
+1 202 319 2441