2001-08-04 / Letters

Political Prisoner

Political Prisoner

Political Prisoner

The genesis of the following letter was a press release submitted by Greenpeace.

Dear Editor;

Katie Flynn-Jambeck, the daughter of Rockaway residents Steve Jambeck and Joan Flynn was jailed on Saturday, July 14, along with fourteen other Greenpeace activists and two journalists.

The Star Wars missile test at Vandenberg Air Force Base was postponed after the Greenpeace activists breached security by putting boats and volunteers into the waters of the military¹s exclusion zone. Greenpeace notified the base that people were in the danger zone ten minutes before the scheduled launch. Despite knowing the activists were still vulnerable, the launch was carried out after a forty-minute delay.

The fifteen Greenpeace activists and two journalists are facing extremely serious charges after the Star Wars missile test was delayed on Saturday evening. The group faces jail terms of more than ten years if found guilty of conspiring to violate a safety zone and violating an order.

The activists from all over the world appeared at the federal Court in Los
Angeles on Monday evening. An independent photographer and a videographer were charged along side them.

These incredibly harsh charges against a totally peaceful act of opposition are a clear indication of President Bush's dictatorial and non-democratic approach to aggressively deploying Star Wars. Those charged come from the U.S, UK, Germany, India, Sweden, Australia, Spain and Canada.

The fifteen members of the boat crews and two members of the press were below the flight path of the missile. Swimmers on boogie boards went ashore at the base, while three boats and press boat, chased by
coastguards, and a helicopter entered the exclusion zone. The test was delayed for forty minutes. Despite repeated warnings that activists were in the danger zone, along with at least one coastguard vessel, the base commander of Vandenberg ordered that the missile be fired regardless.

Everyone involved in this action have done an incredibly brave thing. They were prepared to put them- selves in the firing line of the missile to try to stop not just this test but also the Star Wars program as a whole. This is not about the future of nuclear weapons. It is about the future of our planet and the people on it.

Greenpeace wants to see a nuclear free future. This legal process should not be about prosecuting peaceful protesters. It should be about putting George Bush and his Star Wars program on trial. The charges are: Conspiracy to violate a safety zone, and failure to adhere to the Commander's instructions.

The first is a Class D felony charge, which carries a minimum 5 years jail term, and a maximum of ten years. It could also carry a fine of up to $250,000.

The second charge is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum one-year jail term and a maximum $5,000 fine. Either charge could be imposed singly or jointly. Both sentences could run consecutively.


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