Y-12 protesters in court on sabotage charges

Y-12 protesters in court on sabotage charges

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"We didn't want to sabotage anybody's security," said Sister Megan Rice. "We wanted to safeguard the needs of seven billion people and those who follow us." "We didn't want to sabotage anybody's security," said Sister Megan Rice. "We wanted to safeguard the needs of seven billion people and those who follow us."

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There was another step Thursday in the federal case against peace protesters facing charges for breaking in to the Y-12 National Security Complex.

That breech prompted an overhaul of procedures and cost the security provider its contract.

Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed were arrested in July after security officers found the group had trespassed onto the grounds.

Earlier, a judge heard a motion to dismiss sabotage charges against the protestors, a much more serious charge that can carry up to a 20-year prison sentence  

Displaying their anti-nuclear weapon sentiment on t-shirts in court on Thursday, the three Y-12 protestors say they shouldn't be on trial facing sabotage charges.

"We didn't want to sabotage anybody's security," said Rice. "We wanted to safeguard the needs of seven billion people and those who follow us."
     
Federal prosecutors say the three violated the Sabotage Act since they damaged a national defense premises and obstructed matters of national defense in the process.
     
One of the protester's lawyers claimed the statute shouldn't apply since Y-12 is not a military base, but a private contractor site
 
Prosecutors also filed a motion that wouldn't allow the protestors to talk about intent or motives for the crimes.

But Judge Richard Shirley told lawyers he wouldn't exactly limit the discussions of intent.
  
"I did feel that the judge is more open to hear our case," said Boertje-Obed.
  
"It's not a matter of trying to gain an advantage, but getting out the truth and the whole truth," said Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Peace Alliance.

Pre-sentencing agreements allow the protestors to stay in East Tennessee until next week.

On Thursday night, they are scheduled to speak at a campus ministry at Maryville College, and on Saturday there will be a special meet and greet event held for them at St. James Episcopal Church in Knoxville.

The judge will rule on the some of the motions soon. Responses could come within 30 days.

The trial is scheduled to start on May 7.

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