Y-12 protesters remain jailed while judge considers whether crimes violent

Y-12 Protesters Detention Hearing

Michele Naar-Obed, wife of Y-12 protester Greg Boertje-Obed, and supporter Paul Magno, center, listen outside U.S. District Court on Thursday as supporter Bill Bichsel of Tacoma, Wash., talks to the media.

KNOXVILLE—The three protesters who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July and vandalized a uranium storage building will remain jailed while a federal judge considers whether their crimes were violent.

Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli were convicted of property depredation and willfully injuring national defense premises on Wednesday. They had a detention hearing Thursday morning. [Read more...]

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Y-12 protesters guilty of two federal charges, jailed overnight

The Fruit of Justice is Peace Slogan on HEUMF at Y-12

Three anti-nuclear weapons activists who sneaked into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28 splashed human blood and, quoting Proverbs, sprayed paint on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. The protesters also hammered the building, causing it to chip, and strung up crime scene tape. (Submitted photo)

KNOXVILLE—The Catholic nun, house painter, and laborer who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July and splashed human blood and spray-painted slogans on a uranium storage building were found guilty on two federal counts Wednesday, one charging them with property depredation of more than $1,000 and the other alleging they willfully injured national defense premises.

The three protesters—Megan Rice, 83; Michael R. Walli, 64; and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57—were taken to the Blount County jail after the verdict was read at the end of a two-day trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. Dozens of courtroom supporters sang softly as the three anti-nuclear weapons activists were taken into custody after about 2.5 hours of deliberations by the nine men and three women on the jury panel.

Boertje-Obed, Rice, and Walli have a detention hearing on Thursday morning. Each faces up to 30 years in prison. [Read more...]

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Y-12 protester case goes to jury this afternoon

Y-12 Plowshares Protesters

Pictured above are the three anti-nuclear weapons protesters who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28. From left, they are Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed.

Note: This story was last updated at 12:51 p.m.

KNOXVILLE—The case against three anti-nuclear weapons activists who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July and vandalized a uranium storage building could go to a jury this afternoon.

The government rested its case yesterday, and the defense rested this morning after the three defendants—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli—testified.

The three acknowledge sneaking into Y-12 on July 28, cutting through high-security fences, and pouring blood and spray-painting biblical passages on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored. But they say they were religiously motivated and peacefully protesting the plant’s nuclear weapons work, symbolically disarming the 811-acre plant. [Read more...]

Government rests in federal trial against Y-12 protesters

The Fruit of Justice is Peace Slogan on HEUMF at Y-12

Three anti-nuclear weapons activists who sneaked into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28 allegedly splashed human blood and, quoting Proverbs, sprayed paint on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. The protesters also hammered the building, causing it to chip, and strung up crime scene tape. (Submitted photo)

The government rested on Tuesday in the federal trial against three protesters accused of vandalizing a uranium storage building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July.

The three anti-nuclear weapons activists—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli—face charges of property depredation and willfully injuring national defense premises.

Jury selection was Monday, and the trial started Tuesday.

It resumes at 9 a.m. today in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

Rice is expected to resume testifying this morning.

Citing insufficient evidence, Y-12 protesters seek acquittal on most serious charge

William Quigley and Supporters

William P. Quigley of New Orleans, left, an attorney for one of the three anti-nuclear weapons activists who spray-painted biblical passages and poured blood on a uranium storage building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July, greets supporters outside U.S. District Court in Knoxville on Tuesday.

Attorneys for the three protesters on trial this week for vandalizing a uranium storage building at a nuclear weapons plant said the government doesn’t have enough evidence to convict the defendants on a national defense charge, the most serious of the two remaining charges.

The national defense charge alleges Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli willfully injured national defense premises when they cut through three fences in a high-security Protected Area at Y-12 on July 28 and spray-painted biblical passages and poured blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored. The charge carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years. [Read more...]

Y-12 site manager, fired security guard could testify at protester trial

Plowshares Protesters Jury Selection

Anti-nuclear weapons activists Megan Rice, left, and Greg Boertje-Obed are pictured with Michele Naar-Obed after jury selection in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on Monday. Rice and Boertje-Obed and a third defendant, Michael Walli, are on trial this week for vandalizing a uranium storage building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July.

This story was updated at 9 p.m.

KNOXVILLE—A federal official who oversees production work at two nuclear weapons plants and the guard who was fired after the unprecedented security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July could both testify this week during the trial of three anti-nuclear weapons activists accused of vandalizing a uranium storage building.

The federal official, Steven C. Erhart, oversees nuclear production work at Y-12 and the Pantex Site in Amarillo, Texas. He manages the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office, or NPO.

The guard, Kirk Garland, was the first security officer to reach the three anti-nuclear weapons activists, who cut through three fences in a high-security Protected Area at Y-12 before dawn on July 28 and splashed human blood and spray-painted slogans on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored. Garland was fired Aug. 10, a few weeks after the intrusion. [Read more...]

Jury selection starts today for Y-12 protesters

Y-12 Plowshares Protesters

Pictured above are the three anti-nuclear weapons protesters who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28. From left, they are Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed.

Jury selection starts this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Knoxville for the three anti-nuclear weapons activists accused of breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July and vandalizing a uranium storage building.

The jury selection starts at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 1A.

The case against Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli starts Tuesday.

Judge says prosecution against Y-12 protesters not selective, vindictive

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed claims by three anti-nuclear weapons activists who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July that a so-called sabotage charge filed against them in December was the result of vindictive and selective prosecution.

The defendants had asked the U.S. District Court in Knoxville to dismiss that charge, which carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years. They alleged government prosecutors sought the new charge because they had earlier refused to plead guilty to less serious charges. [Read more...]

Y-12 protesters can’t use necessity, Nuremberg defenses at Tuesday trial

Y-12 Plowshares Protesters

Pictured above are the three anti-nuclear weapons protesters who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28. From left, they are Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed.

The three protesters accused of sneaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex and vandalizing a uranium storage building in July will not be able to argue during their trial next week that they violated federal laws in order to achieve a greater good, a judge said.

It’s what is known as a necessity defense, and it only applies in rare situations, U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar said in an opinion and order filed Tuesday. It allows a defendant to avoid a conviction even when the government has proven all the elements of an offense.

Thapar said the three anti-nuclear weapons activists—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli—did not have any evidence to establish three of the four required elements of the necessity defense, including a “reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury due to a present, imminent, and unlawful threat.”

[Read more...]

Government asks court to dismiss one charge against Y-12 protesters

Y-12 Plowshares Protesters

Pictured above are the three anti-nuclear weapons protesters who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28. From left, they are Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed.

Note: This story was last updated at 9:47 a.m. April 29.

Federal prosecutors have asked the U.S. District Court in Knoxville to dismiss one of the charges against the three anti-nuclear weapons activists accused of breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July and splashing blood and spray-painting slogans on a uranium storage building.

A motion filed on Thursday said the United States has determined that it is unable to establish jurisdiction for that charge, one of three faced by the defendants: Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli. That charge alleges that the trio destroyed and injured, and attempted to destroy and injure, Y-12 property. [Read more...]

Court will not limit time for jury examination in Y-12 protester case

A federal judge will not limit the time used to examine prospective jurors during jury selection on May 6 in the trial against three anti-nuclear weapons activists accused of breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex last summer and vandalizing a uranium storage building.

As previously reported, attorneys for the defendants—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli—had asked for six hours for jury selection because of the publicity the unprecedented security breach has generated. [Read more...]

Former attorney general says Y-12 work unlawful, nuclear weapons should be eliminated

Ramsey Clark

Ramsey Clark

Note: This story was updated at 3:54  p.m.

KNOXVILLE—A former U.S. attorney general who said he has been involved in many cases that address the legality and wisdom of the nation’s nuclear arms policy on Tuesday said he supported the mission of the three protesters who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July, splashing blood and spray-painting slogans on a building that stores most of the country’s bomb-grade uranium.

“I agree absolutely with their purpose, which is to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Ramsey Clark, who was U.S. attorney general from 1967-1969.

The three protesters—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli—face a May 7 trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. Clark could testify for them. [Read more...]