Star Wars 17 walking into court in downtown Los Angeles.
Fifteen international activists and the two journalists
originally faced double felony charges and up to six years in jail,
but the felony charges were dropped in January when all 17 pled
guilty to a misdemeanour offence of conspiracy to trespass.
Mike Townsley, Greenpeace disarmament campaigner said, "We are
pleased this case is now over. But the threats posed by Star Wars
"The process of nuclear escalation has already begun, the US
Administration is now threatening limited nuclear strikes and
planning to arm Star Wars interceptor missiles with nuclear
warheads, blowing apart the myth of a defensive shield - this is an
offensive weapon. If the US continues with this programme it can
only lead to a re-ignition of the arms race and a return to the
Henk Haazen (New Zealand) received 3 years probation, Brent
Maness (USA) received 2 years probation, Dan Rudie (USA) received 1
years probation, Guy Levacher (Canada) received 18 months
probation, Steve Morgan (UK freelance journalist) received 1 year
probation & Jorge Torres (Spain freelance journalist) received
time served for three days already spent in jail.
Nine of the Star Wars activists were sentenced in January, and
two more last Friday, April 12th - all received one years'
probation. The 17 defendants came from the USA, UK, Germany, India,
Sweden, New Zealand/(the Netherlands), Canada, Spain &
Statements from the defendants
Henk Haazen - New Zealand:
Your Honour, Thanks for the opportunity to say a few words, I have
enjoyed this court as much as it is possible under the
circumstances…. and have a lot of respect for the style in which it
is run, at the same time I will be very happy when this is over, as
it has messed up my life a bit for the last 9 months.
However, the reasons why we did our protest action at Vandenberg
are still there, and I feel as strongly about the need to campaign
against the Star Wars missile defence system now as I did on 14
July. September 11th showed that you can never guarantee a 100%
secure defence system that totally isolates or defends a big
democratic country like the US from outside attacks.
The Star Wars missile shield system proposes to build a
protective umbrella over the US, by doing so it is forcing other
nations into a new nuclear weapons race that nobody can afford both
in terms of money and resources, and because of the destabilising
effect it has on the current nuclear weapons status quo.
The money spend on this program would be better spend on
improving life and the living environment for this planet and
building bridges of friendship to neighbouring countries.I think
that you can compare the situation, to a being a wealthy person
living in a poorer neighbourhood.
Living as a wealthy person in a poor area you can choose not to
have much to do with the neighbourhood, build a big wall around the
property, put guards, dogs and locked gates on it, and try to
defend and protect your property like that. This is expensive,
builds up resentment and a negative reaction from your
Alternatively you can talk to your neighbours get a bit involved
with them in a nice way and help out here and there. In short
become good neighbours with them, even if they come from a
different culture or race and have a different outlook on life,
Making friends with you neighbours is a much more effective way
to ensure a quiet night's sleep.
For me our protest on the 14th of July was to draw public
attention to the fact that the US is in the process of isolating
itself and building a wall around itself, ignoring protest from
most major world governments at the same time.
I'm from NZ and felt that it was necessary to come to the US and
together with my American friends play an active role in the
peaceful anti-nuclear protest at Vandenberg, so that our voice
could be heard by the people of this country, as this is the place
were most of the changes need to be made.
Your honour thanks you for your time.
Guy Levacher - Canada:
Your Honour, This has been my experience since July 14th 2001. I
was arrested by the FBI, chained and shackled. I spent 6 days in
maximum security in a state penitentiary with hardcore criminals,
drug traffickers and murderers.
Travel restrictions were imposed upon me for 4 months, limiting
me to the Los Angeles area, prohibiting me from returning to my
country, to be with my family and to provide financial and
emotional support. I was unable to be at my wife's' side while her
mother was dying of cancer. I was unable to pursue my law studies,
for which I had worked so hard.
I was a nine month sentence for having exercised my basic human
right to protest peacefully. As I stand before you today, I ask
that you allow me to return home to continue my legal studies as I
await the arrival of my first child.
Brent Maness - USA:
As a citizen of the United States it is my duty to oppose the
policies of our government that are contrary to my political and
ideological beliefs, this civic responsibility is one I refuse to
take lightly. I believe that civil disobedience is an effective and
appropriate method of voicing one's opposition to the injustice and
violence perpetuated against living beings and the Earth. I respect
the rule of law, but feel that in extreme instances even legitimate
law should be broken to prevent a greater evil. The rulings at
Nuremberg found that it is intolerable for an individual to
acquiesce when he is aware that his government is in violation of
international law. I believed, and still believe, that it was my
responsibility as a citizen of the United States to do everything
possible to prevent a violation of the Anti Ballistic Missile
Treaty. With that said, I am prepared to accept any punishment that
the court deems fitting for the crime that I have committed.
I took part in the aforementioned action because I believe that
by testing the Missile Defence System the U.S. is in violation of
an international law that takes precedence over U.S. national law.
The development of the Star Wars program, the consequent U.S.
withdrawal from the ABM treaty and other misguided and unfortunate
actions taken by the Bush Administration have already begun to
exacerbate international instability and create a new nuclear arms
race. This is apparent as the Bush administration embraces the
cold-war era policy of "mutually assured destruction" as the best
means of preventing nuclear war and speaks of using tactical
nuclear weapons in a first strike against the so called "axis of
I fear the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been forsaken
for the ignorance that often accompanies fear and hatred. Now it is
more important than ever that our nation exercise caution and
prudence when making policy decisions. I believe that it will prove
beneficial for U.S. economic and security interests to stop Star
Wars and re-examine the policy decisions, both here and abroad,
that have led us to our current state of war and reciprocal
Dan Rudie - USA:
I do not take breaking the law lightly and while I do admit my
guilt in this case, my convictions are important enough to me to
accept the risks involved in taking direct action and the
consequences of those actions. I respect the law and will respect
any probation this court decides, as I have done for the last nine
Steve Morgan - UK (Journalist):
Your Honour, if it may please the court, I would like to make a
brief statement. I am a professional freelance photographer and
have been for over 20 years of my working life. During this time I
have taken pictures of wars, famines, civil strife and
environmental destruction. During my documentation of such powerful
events I have also recorded the struggles of peoples and
individuals for their own personal dignity and the triumph of hope
and the human spirit over great odds.
In a world view increasingly shaped by corporate advertising and
government spin the actions of individuals striving to be heard
above the clamour of big business and political self interest, I
believe, deserves to be given a hearing.
I do not believe there is such a thing as objective
photojournalism. We all have our own unique view of the world and
as such will attempt to describe and make sense of it in such
terms. As a photojournalist my interpretation of events is shaped
by my personal views and not by the persons or organisations who
commission the assignments. I would shoot the same pictures whether
I was assigned by the Washington Post , the London Times or indeed
As the Magnum photographer Robert Capa once famously remarked
"if your pictures aren't good enough - you're not close enough" -
which, your Honour, had I chosen to ignore this particular piece of
advice, I probably wouldn't have found myself standing here today
in your courtroom.