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Pine Gap 4 Convictions Overturned! - All Outta Jail!

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Saturday February 23, 2008 17:59author by Adele - PG4 - Christians Against ALL Terrorismauthor address Darwin, Northern Territory, Astralia Report this post to the editors

Pine Gap is a NSA/CIA Warfighting Base located near Alice Springs, NT, Australia

Hi everyone
Today the Pine Gap 4 were aquitted under the Special Defence Undertakings Act of 1952.

Its been a long journey from December 2005 to 2008. All of us would like to thank you for the contribution you have made.
Your support and involvement has made it possible to put Pine Gap on trial.

The decision to aquit us under the Specail Undertakings Act of 1952, will effect all defence areas in Australia that also fall under this act. It sets a precedent for future acts of civil disobediance carried out on all defence areas in Australia.


Dear friends

Today Bryan, Jim, Adele and Donna were acquitted of their convictions under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952.

It was a unanimous decision by the full bench of the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal.

The three judges agreed with our submission that there was a miscarriage of justice at last year's trial because we were not able to bring evidence before the jury about the function of Pine Gap.

There were other grounds to the appeal, of a more technical nature. The judges will publish the detailed reasons for their decision in coming weeks.

The Prosecution quickly sought a re-trial, but was quickly rebutted.

"What would be achieved for these individuals or the community if there is a re-trial?" asked Justice Riley rather sternly.

The judges unanimously ruled there would be no re-trial.

The fact that we had already served prison time was a significant factor in their decision to refuse a re-trial. We are all very glad we did this as now our slate is clean regarding the other charge of 'damage', under the crimes act. So now it's all over!

This 'David vs Goliath' outcome is a result of the excellent work of our legal team: Ron Merkel QC, Rowena Orr and Russell Goldflam. Their commitment, persistance and brilliance was amazing. They should be heartily congratulated. (I hope to have a way for you all to do that soon).

The result now raises significant questions for the Government about the use of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952. It was the first, and mostly likely last time it will be used in this context.

It is a victory for fairness and common sense, and a slap in the face for Prosecutor's who seek to use draconian legislation to respond to pacifists partaking in non-violent civil disobedience with an extreme witchunt.

Congratulations to our Pine Gap colleagues Jessica Morrison and Sean O'Reilly and thanks to everyone involved in our journey since December 2005.

It's been an amazing experience for all of us!

Rise Up!

Put Pine Gap on trial!

cheers from
Donna, Jim. Adele, Bryan

PS: Within 10 minutes of the ruling there was national media coverage on most major newspaper websites as well as ABC Radio and TV.
PPS: Some pics to come, news reports below

http://news. pine-gap- protesters- conviction- quashed/20080222 -1txp.html /story/0, 21985,23257820- 5005961,00. html

Court finds in favour of Pine Gap protestors
ABC Online Posted February 22, 2008 14:15:00
Updated February 22, 2008 14:22:00

The four protesters outside court following their successful appeal. (Jack Kerr)
The Territory's Court of Criminal Appeal has quashed the convictions of four protesters who broke into the Pine Gap defence facility three years ago.
Last year, Bryan Law, Adele Goldie, Jim Dowling and Donna Mulhearn were found guilty of breaking into the spy base using wire cutters in the Northern Territory Supreme Court in Alice Springs. They were the first people to be charged under the Defence Special Undertakings Act of 1952. The foursome were fined a total of $3,000.
They appealed against their convictions, and today the Territory's full Court of Criminal Appeal found in their favour.
It's now off to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether to pursue a retrial or drop the matter.
Minor convictions for trespass and criminal damage will still stand.

Further Background on Appeal

Related Link:
author by PG4publication date Sun Feb 24, 2008 04:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"It's a vindication of a position we've been taking for 2 years -- Pine Gap is not a base for the defence of Australia,'' Mr Law said on the Supreme Court steps.
"Pine Gap is an instrument of international aggression.

Yesterday, it took Chief Justice Martin and Justices Trevor Riley and David Angel just minutes to agree that there had been a "miscarriage of justice'', as the four had not been allowed to argue before a jury that Pine Gap was not a "defence facility'' for Australia.

Full article from Sunday Territorian "Star Wars Invaders Set Free" on link.....

Related Link:
author by Jefferson Leepublication date Sat Feb 23, 2008 20:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A group known as The Pine Gap Four" danced deliriously just before midday today on the steps of the Darwin Supreme Court in the Northern Territory (N.T.), Australia. Holding up a banner saying "Rise up against War" the activists remained defiant despite facing potentially seven year gaol sentences. Minutes before the three judge full bench of the N.T. Supreme Court had over-turned all their convictions under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 These charges related to allegedly trespassing on "prohibited areas" and taking photos of the top secret USA-controlled spy base 'Pine Gap'. The base is located 21 kilometres South of Alice Springs in the N.T. Minor charges under the Crimes Act which related to damaging the exterior fence of the installation were not appealed against. Fines imposed by the lower court were "worked off" in Berrimah Prison last week in lieu of payment by all four participants.

The Crown prosecutor (DPP) was seeking custodial sentences against the defendants in an appeal to the full bench against the lightness of sentence imposed by Supreme Court judge Sally Thomas in an earlier hearing of the evidence throughout the second half of 2006. The original action began in November 2005 when one of the defendants Bryan Law, a school teacher and family man wrote and told his Federal Minister that he was going to the "Joint Research Facility" as part of a "Citizen's Inspection Team" organized by the non-violence affinity group "Christians Against All Terrorism".

As a result of research material from the Nautilus Institute web site, Bryan and his group believed the base was conducting spying activity , not for the "defence" of Australia, but for the American "war of aggression" in Iraq and in preparation for "star wars". Another member of the group was Donna Mulhearn, previously a "human shield" in the initial bombing period of the 2003 Iraq War. Outside the court Donna Mulhearn said the threat of gaol did not worry the group because they act on conscience against war. Their consciences were a higher law than the law of the land. She believed the judges in their summing up went beyond dismissing the serious charges against them when they acknowledged our actions were designed to expose the true functions of the Pine Gap base. We believe the base is not for the "defence of Australians but wars of aggression". Fellow activist Bryan Law, from Cairns in Northern Queensland said he intends to use the acquittal to mobilize another "Citizen's Inspection" on April 25th - Anzac Day or Veterans Day in Australia - later this year.

Clearly the court became a battle ground over the public's right to know the full extent of Australia's involvement in the US led Iraq War, our involvement with "Star Wars". The broader issues of censorship and threatened legal retribution facing not just "Citizen Inspection Teams" who wanted to investigate the base, but the media and their right to report the actions. Editors of numerous (18) newspapers were warned individually by Australian Federal Police in late 2005 not to print a photo of a protester on a tower inside the base's perimeter, lest they risk seven year gaol sentences under the Act. Only two of these editors defied the threats and published anyway.

(Erwin Chlanda, editor of the Alice Springs News, told RSF that he had been specifically warned by the NT Police spokesperson Theresa Kuilbroer "not to publish" - but "I did, I was ready to go to jail if necessary". Greg Thomson, then editor of the Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs) wanted to publish the photo, but was told by his legal department (Murdoch) that this would be illegal. He did not publish, and still regrets it. Jack Waterford, Canberra Times, published the photo. Apparently no one else did, until this week, when even the Darwin ABC-TV broadcast it. NB: Many other photoes of the CIA base, the installations, have appeared in the media. Apparently without any inculpations.. MW)

The decision today is seen as a victory for the civil liberties and peace movements in Australia. Politically it will increase pressure on the new Labor Federal Government to review the enormous number of legislative changes made under the previous Liberal government that were introduced to restrict freedom of speech and debate on defence issues in the wake of the 9-11 attack in 2001 in the USA. Many of these new laws had bipartisan support. It will also heighten the debate over the role of the thirty plus - joint and foreign run - US military installations in Australia. Importantly, it will also make it easier for journalists to report on defence and security issues which until now have faced many hidden and punitative restrictions.

Jefferson Lee

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