Seeking delay, Y-12 protesters have Friday hearing in federal court

A Friday hearing has been scheduled for the three protesters accused of sneaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28 and spray-painting slogans and splashing human blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored.

The three protesters—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael R. Walli—have asked Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley to delay their Oct. 10 trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

Boertje-Obed and Rice filed their requests on Wednesday. In a motion filed Thursday by Knoxville attorney Chris Irwin, Walli adopted Rice’s motion to postpone the trial.

In its own motion filed Thursday, the federal government said it did not object to delaying the trial as long as the motions to do so are “sought based on a showing of good cause.”

Assistant U.S. attorneys Melissa M. Kirby and Jeffrey E. Theodore said the United States also does not object to delaying the trial to give the defendants the “reasonable time necessary for effective preparation.”

However, the federal government does object to delaying the trial in response to its perceived complexity. In a motion filed Wednesday, Rice’s attorney, Francis L. Lloyd Jr., said the case presents significant and complex issues for pretrial litigation and trial.

“The United States submits that this case is not ‘complex,’” as defined in the United States Code, Kirby and Theodore said in the federal government’s response.

Boertje-Obed, Rice, and Walli have been charged with property destruction, property depredation, and trespassing for the unprecedented July 28 security breach. They each face up to 16 years in jail and up to $600,000 in fines.

The breach has led to a string of contractor personnel changes, a temporary halt in nuclear operations, more security training, a show cause notice that gave B&W Y-12, the plant’s management and operating contractor, 30 days to explain why its contract should not be terminated, and a critical report by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Inspector General.

Friday’s hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. in Courtroom 3B at U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

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