Thursday 18 March 2010

Waihopai Ploughshares trial: the verdict is not guilty

I’m pleasantly surprised by the verdict. Commentary in the news says it doesn’t set a legal precedent, because it’s a jury verdict, not a judges ruling, nevertheless I’m sure it will inspire anti-war activists everywhere. The action, the court case and especially this verdict have also done a lot to raise awareness about the spy base and the fact that it’s part of our Government’s support for the US war machine, and nothing to do with defending grassroots people in this country.

~ David

Waihopai Ploughshares trial helped uncover secrets

Waihopai Ploughshares

17 March 2010

Adrian Leason, Father Peter Murnane and Sam Land – the three men who were charged with intentional damage and unlawful entry at Waihopai spy base – have today expressed their thanks to the jury, the judge, and the prosecution and defence lawyers.

At the conclusion of the trial, Father Peter, Sam and Adrian said they feel privileged to have helped uncover the true nature of the spy base.

“Our actions in disabling the spy base and stopping the flow of information helped save lives in Iraq”, added Adrian.

“What has been humbling for us to realise is how our witness has impacted on so many people around the world and at home”, said Sam.

“We did not try to avoid the consequences of our actions, because we respect the rule of law although we do believe we are ultimately accountable to a higher authority. We damaged property at the spy base in order to save victims of war and torture. It’s all about Jesus’ command for us to treat all people as our brothers and sisters”, said Father Peter.

The jury heard that the Waihopai Echelon spy base is New Zealand’s largest contribution to the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. The ongoing war has resulted in horrific war crimes, including more than one million dead Iraqi civilians, torture, and permanent poisoning of parts of Iraq by the use of depleted uranium munitions.

The jury also heard evidence from a former British Echelon intelligence analyst, Katherine Gunn. She blew the whistle on secret Echelon spying operations when she was instructed by the US National Security Agency to spy on United Nations Security Council members leading up to the US invasion in 2003.

“Evidence presented in the court confirmed that the ongoing war in Iraq is illegal, and causing massive human suffering”, said Adrian. “As an outcome of this trial, we hope that New Zealanders will insist on an enquiry into the activities of the spy base and its links to US-led illegal wars”.

Father Peter, Sam and Adrian expressed gratitude for all the support they have received from family, friends and the New Zealand public.

Commenting at the conclusion of the trial, Graham Bidois Cameron, Waihopai Ploughshares media spokesperson, said this Ploughshares action is part of an ongoing tradition: “The practice of non-violent resistance and direct action in the cause of peace has a long history in this country - the peaceful resistance to the invasion of Parihaka, and non-violent direct action against nuclear armed warships entering our harbours being just two examples”, he said.

“The actions of Waihopai Ploughshares also need to be understood in relation to an international movement for disarmament and peace”, said lawyer Moana Cole, herself a Ploughshares activist. “Adrian, Sam and Father Peter are part of rich history of activism in support of those without a voice and the movement is certainly growing”.

Contact: Graham Bidois Cameron, email

A formatted copy of this release is available at pl170310.pdf

Anti-Bases Campaign congratulated Waihopai Domebusters and calls for the real criminals to be prosecuted

The Anti-Bases Campaign congratulates the Waihopai spy base Domebusters – Adrian Leason, Peter Murnane and Sam Land (and we’re proud to have all three of them as ABC members) on their entirely deserved acquittal on all charges arising from their April 2008 deflation of one of the top secret base’s satellite dish domes. And we congratulate the jury of ordinary New Zealand women and men who listened to the evidence for eight days and then, after deliberating for only a few hours, found them innocent. It is a triumph of common sense.

This was no whodunnit case. The Domebusters admitted everything, said that they had the firm belief that they had the law on their side and were proud of what they did; the prosecution case was uncontested and over in an afternoon. The rest of the trial consisted of the defendants and their lawyers explaining to the jury why they did it. They did it because Waihopai operates, in all but name, as an outpost of US intelligence on NZ soil; it makes NZ a partner in crime with the US in each and every war that it is fighting; it means that New Zealanders, involuntarily and unknowingly, have blood on our hands. The Domebusters said that their motivation was to do enough damage to the spy base to stop its normal functions in order to prevent a crime and to save the lives of people in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan endangered by its sinister work. In electrifying testimony Adrian Leason said that he did it thinking of his own three year old daughter and that because of what he did, a three old girl in Iraq is still alive.

If Adrian, Peter and Sam are innocent, then who should be in the dock? The answer is obvious – the shadowy spy bosses and their political masters should face a jury, either domestically or internationally, for active participation in waging wars and crimes against humanity. And the implications of this verdict are obvious – those who attacked and damaged it have been ruled to be have acted lawfully; the spy base is the one which has been found to be acting unlawfully. The historic verdict in this unprecedented case reinforces the call of the Anti-Bases Campaign and a growing groundswell of other organisations and individuals for the Waihopai spy base to be closed immediately. Ordinary New Zealanders, in the form of this Wellington jury, have spoken.

Murray Horton
Anti-Bases Campaign

Box 2258, Christchurch, New Zealand

Congratulations to intrepid ploughshares activists

Global Peace & Justice Auckland
18 March 2010

Global Peace and Justice Auckland congratulates the intrepid activists from the Ploughshares group who were found not guilty by a jury yesterday in the Wellington District Court. The not guilty verdict relates to charges of burglary and intentional damage when they deflated one of the domes at the Waihopai spybase near Blenheim two years ago.

The defence the domebusters presented to the jury was well founded. The three freely admitted they did the damage claimed but their argument was an elegant and courageous expression of otherwise illegal action taken to prevent much greater crimes against people. The three told the Wellington District Court they acted to save the lives of those who are endangered by United States intelligence gathered from the base.

Waihopai’s activity threatens lives around the world and most recently it assisted the US strategy to help justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed as a result. The three activists have helped focus public attention on the immoral work of Waihopai.

Waihopai is New Zealand’s greatest contribution to US global strategies and ties us into the US war machine. It’s activity threatens lives around the world but it is also outside the democratic control of New Zealanders.

The spybase is nominally run by the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) but is – in all but name – a United States spybase operating on New Zealand soil.   It is clear from research here and overseas that it is operated in the US national interest – both militarily and commercially. Other similar bases are operated around the world with Waihopai being part of this secret global surveillance network set up after WWII under the UKUSA treaty which involves the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The kiwi trio on trial this week deserve applause for their courage in stripping this base to its bare essentials and exposing its undemocratic and immoral purposes.

John Minto
Global Peace & Justice Auckland
Private Bag 68905,Newton, Auckland.

The Anti-Bases Campaign’s Murray Horton reconmends the following articles from the MSM:

This article on the Stuff site is longer than what appeared today in Fairfax hardcopy papers (and actually includes a little bit of ABC’s press release).

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