INDEPENDENT NEWS

Christian Pacifists Challenge Pine Gap In Court

Published: Fri 6 Oct 2006 03:19 AM
Christian Pacifists Challenge Pine Gap In Supreme Court
October 4, 2006
The trial of four Christian pacifists in the Northern Territory Supreme Court yesterday challenged the Governments attempts to silence public criticism of US military bases in Australia.
In a legal first, the four defendents, Jim Dowling, Bryan Law, Adele Goldie and Donna Mulhearn are charged under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 which carries a maximum of seven years in prison for trespass.
The group conducted a "Citizen's Inspection" of Pine Gap military base last year, managing to breach the security of the top-secret facility, scale a building, unfurl banners and take photographs.
The defence Barrister, Rowena Orr, told the court she believed the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act limits the fundamental right of freedom of movement of its citizens and therefore must be very stringent in its application.
Ms Orr said the act requires the government to prove that Pine Gap defends Australia's interests against external aggression and if it cannot do so, the defendents should be acquitted.
The Judge reserved her decision and set a further date for mention on Thursday 12th October. The defendants return to court this Thursday, October 5 to fight a secret suppression order placed on them, as well as a discovery order to gain information from the Crown that they are not providing.
Donna Mulhearn, one of the accused, said the charges are clearly political and reflect the Government's persecution of citizens who challenge their agenda of war.
"This case shows that the level of control they are seeking is excessive, and we must curb the actions of Governments in attempting to control," she said.
"We put an alternative view to the Australian people- super secret American spy bases do NOT hold the key to Australia's security.
"Our security lies in building better relationships."
Supporters of the group from around the country are gathering in Alice Springs this week for a national peace convergence aimed at drawing attention to Pine Gap and its role in the war in Iraq. A forum will be held on Friday night with international activist, Ciaron O'Reilly, recently acquitted for causing over $2million damage to a US military plane at Shannon airport in Ireland.
There is also protest action planned at the Pine Gap facility on Saturday at 2pm.
For further information and interviews contact: Donna Mulhearn on 0422 749319, Jessica Morrison 0422202880

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