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Y-12 Protestors Released from Prison

Peace Activists

Michael R. Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed, were arrested for breaking into the Y-12 Nuclear Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Last week, three protestors who had broken into a nuclear weapons production facility and were sent to jail for their activism were released from prison.

In 2012, the Transform Now Plowshares activists broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex to protest plans to construct a new Uranium Processing Facility. The group, led by then-82-year-old nun Megan Rice, revealed serious security flaws at the Y-12 site. Rice, along with her fellow protestors Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, easily made it through the zone where deadly force is authorized and spent several minutes protesting outside the building that holds over 900,000 pounds of highly enriched uranium before a guard found them.

Nine months later the group was found guilty of two felony charges—damaging government property and obstructing the national defense, a “sabotage” charge typically used in violent crime. Prosecuting attorney Jeff Theodore told the judge that the protestors “had destroyed the ‘mystique’ of the ‘Fort Knox of uranium.’”

Two weeks ago the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the protestors were not intending to obstruct national defense and reversed the sabotage convictions.An emergency motion was filed to release Rice, Walli, and Boertje-Obed pending a resentencing hearing, which the government did not oppose. The protestors were subsequently released on their own recognizance.

Image from Transform Now Plowshares.

By: Lydia Dennett
Investigator, POGO

lydia dennett Lydia Dennett is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Lydia works on safety and security of nuclear weapons and power facilities, foreign lobbying and influence, and works with Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblowers.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Nuclear Weapons Complex Oversight, Y-12 /Oak Ridge National Lab, Nuclear Security

Authors: Lydia Dennett

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