Greenpeace Trial starts - record numbers demand unprecedented U.S Administration prosecution to be dropped
May 17th 2004, Miami, Florida, USA: More than 68.611 people have sent email messages and faxes to U.S President George Bush and his Attorney General, John Ashcroft, demanding an end to attempts to criminalise the entire Greenpeace organisation in the USA.
The first day of the trial, which is an unprecedented prosecution of any advocacy group for a peaceful protest by its supporters, begins today in Miami, Florida.
Greenpeace is being prosecuted under an obscure 1872 law against "sailormongering" for a peaceful protest in 2002 against a cargo ship carrying illegal mahogany wood from the Brazilian Amazon.(1)
As well as the 68.611 on-line protests, the highest number ever generated for a Greenpeace international campaign, American civil rights leaders, unions, legal experts and newspaper editorials have condemned the prosecution, warning that it will have serious consequences for the rights to peaceful protest and freedom of speech.
The bizarre law, under which Greenpeace has been charged, was originally designed to discourage owners of inns and brothels from boarding ships, as they are about to enter port, in order to lure the sailors into their establishments. It has only been used twice in its' history. The prosecution appears to be another example of attempts to silence critics of the current Bush administration.
Supporters of Greenpeace in this case include former U.S Vice President Al Gore, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, the Sierra Club, U.S Senator Patrick Leahy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
NOTES: (1) For more information, visit: www.greenpeaceusa.org/trial
Greenpeace International Press