Action and prosecution updates from Australia, Russia, and the US.
As the Australian national elections approached, two more blockades took place at the Jabiluka uranium mine. On September 18, twelve people from the on-going protest encampment attached themselves to a giant metal lizard sculpture blocking the road into the mining lease site. Uranium extraction has not yet begun, but construction is well underway at the remote site in the heart of Kakadu National Park, a Northern Territory reserve listed as part of the World Heritage for both its aboriginal cultural and natural history significance.
A banner hung from a tripod above the lizard declared "Stop Jabiluka Mine because the Liberals won't." The twelve were cited and eventually released.
On the morning of September 28, more than 250 people gathered at the entrance to the lease, where they were greeted by members of the Mirrar clan, the officially designated but typically ignored aboriginal Traditional Owners of the area. Nearly half of the crowd looked alike in their John Howard masks, depicting the Prime Minister of Australia whose government has ignored international protests and meaningful environmental scrutiny of a project opposed by 67% of Australians polled, and supported by only 7%.
Ninety John Howards walked on to the lease site and were arrested for trespass. Most gave their names as John Howard, necessitating their transport in police vehicles to the closest station at Jabiru, before they were released.
Treena Lenthall and Ciaron O'Reilly, imprisoned since their August 9 Ploughshares disarmament action against mining machinery at Jabiluka, have both posted bond and been released. Due to overcrowding at the Berrimah Jail in Darwin, caused by the Northern Territory's new mandatory sentencing laws, women were being threatened with transfer to a distant prison at Alice Springs. Recognizing that such a transfer would pose undue hardship on women with family and friends in Darwin, Lenthall accepted bail on September 16. O'Reilly took bail October 2, and both are now preparing for trial in Darwin Magistrates Court on November 26 - 27.
The total number of arrests during the last six months of resistance at Jabiluka was overstated in the last issue of the Nuclear Resister. As of late August, 420 arrests were reported, and the total now exceeds 525. Most of those arrested are due to have their cases heard between December 25, 1998, and February 8, 1999.
For more information, contact Jabiluka Blockade, POB 227, Jabiru, NT 0886, Australia, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the Jabiluka Ploughshares at their new address, POB 3818, Darwin NT, 0801, Australia, or via their web site: http://www.freespeech.org/ploughshares
The espionage trial for Russian nuclear whistleblower Aleksandr Nikitin finally got underway in St. Petersburg on October 20. The date was nearly three years after Russian secret police (FSB) first raided the St. Petersburg offices of Bellona, a Norwegian environmental organization employing the former Russian navy officer to help investigate Russian nuclear navy pollution.
After several days in court, hearing several state witnesses and defenders of Nikitin, the judge ordered the case be sent back to the FSB for further investigation. His ruling severely criticized the indictment of Nikitin, calling it too vague and demanding specifics about just what information revealed in the report that Nikitin helped Bellona publish was secret. Under Russian law, the judge is unable to directly acquit Nikitin, who remains confined to St. Petersburg by "city arrest"until further notice.
Meanwhile, Nikitin's attorneys are filing a complaint with the Russian Supreme Court and with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, seeking an end to the legal limbo that has shadowed the Russian since his initial arrest and imprisonment nearly three years ago.
The same week in Vladivostok, on Russia's Pacific Coast, a military court postponed trial for Captain Grigory Pasko, an active-duty military journalist accused of spying for Japan. Pasko was arrested and jailed in late 1997 after providing admittedly unclassified documents and video material about Russian navy nuclear waste spills in the Sea of Japan to Japanese television and newspapers. Pasko's attorneys are pressing for dismissal of the charges, while the journalist is reportedly still behind bars.
As was the case with Nikitin, foreign journalists have begun to take note of the absurdity of the charges and vindictiveness of the prosecution to speak out on Pasko's behalf. No new trial date has been reported.
All charges pending against 21 people arrested at the nuclear power plant last August were dismissed in early November. State's Attorney Dan Davis told the Caledonian Record he "dismissed the charges at the request of Vermont Yankee because it feared that information that would be brought up during the trial would result in the state losing the case." Indeed, preparations were already underway to put nuclear power in Vermont on trial with discovery motions, expert witnesses and a coordinated media push, all part of the Nuclear Free New England Campaign...
Sen. Jeffords' Office/Cassini Protest:
Six people were convicted of trespass by a Burlington, Vermont, jury on October 20. A seventh co-defendant was acquitted due to lack of evidence in the case, which resulted from the October, 1997, occupation of the office to protest the Senator's support for the impending launch of the Cassini space probe. Defendants were threatened with contempt if they testified to their concerns about an accident involving the plutonium fueled thermal device that powers the spacecraft. The defendants are free pending sentencing....
Naval Sub Base/Groton:
Ten citizen weapons inspectors arrested last Hiroshima Day have been barred from the base for 90 days as a result...
Sub Base Bangor:
The "D-5 Nine" will face trial December 17 for blocking the road leading into the Trident nuclear submarine base in Washington state last August 9 with a full-size mock-up of the submarine's D-5 ballistic nuclear missile...
War Tax Resistance/Oregon:
Seeking to avoid trial, a judge agreed to postpone proceedings on Ed Martiszus's case for 90 days, and give the hospital prosecuting Ed for trespass until January 5 to meet and discuss the issue at dispute: Martiszus's war tax refusal and the hospital's refusal to repay him for taxes taken against his conscience when Martiszus was a nurse there...
War Tax Resistance/Milwaukee:
Roberta Thurston and Don Timmerman had trespass charges dropped when witnesses failed to show for trial on their Tax Day, 1998 sit-in at the IRS...