U.S. and Georgia officials did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday on whether peace protester Megan Rice, who has been convicted of destroying government property at the Y-12 National Security Complex, returned to prison in the Peach State this week after a five-day release to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law in New York.
But on Tuesday, Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, said he assumed Rice had returned to the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga.
“I assume she reported, or we’d have heard from someone trying to locate her,” Hutchison said in a Tuesday evening e-mail. “I know she was returning to Atlanta last night en route to Ocilla. That’s the last I heard.”
Hutchison has been supportive of Rice and the other two protesters, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, and attended their May trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, among other things.
The U.S. Marshals Service in Knoxville did not respond to requests for comment this week and neither did the Georgia Department of Corrections.
On July 24, U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. agreed to let Rice be temporarily released from the Irwin County Detention Center on July 25 to travel to Atlanta and Syracuse, New York, and then to Manlius, New York, to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law Peter Finnerty Sr. on Saturday, July 27. She was prohibited from other travel and activity, and she could not talk to the media or enter any government facilities, including Y-12 and any other national nuclear security complex.
Her nephew Peter Finnerty Jr. and his wife Carolyn were to be responsible for her travel and transportation. Rice was ordered to voluntarily report back to the Irwin County Detention Center on July 29.
Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli were convicted on May 8 of one count of willful destruction of government property and one count of injuring national defense premises with the intent to interfere with the national defense during the unprecedented July 28, 2012, security breach. U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar denied a request in May to let the defendants stay out of jail pending their sentencing hearings. Thapar found that detention was required by statute, and an exception did not apply. Accordingly, Rice was detained pending her sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 30.
The U.S. government opposed the temporary release last week, saying Rice had not provided any statutory authority for the requested release and prosectors said the reasons the U.S. District Court cited for denying Rice’s motion for release in May still apply now.
But Shirley disagreed, saying, among other things, that Rice was not a danger, unlikely to flee, and complied with all conditions while on pretrial release. She was present as required for all court appearances between her initial appearance on Aug. 3, 2012, and being taken into custody on May 8 this year, Shirley said. Also, Rice is a Roman Catholic sister with no spouse or children, and her siblings and nieces and nephews are her closest relatives, the judge said.
The three defendants, all anti-nuclear weapons activists, acknowledged breaking into Y-12 before dawn on July 28, cutting through three fences in a high-security Protected Area, and splashing human blood and spray-painting slogans on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored. They each face up to 30 years in prison.