The Bush administration's attempt to use an obsolete "sailormongering" law to prosecute Greenpeace failed when the judge dismissed the charges in the midst of the trial. Greenpeace USA was under threat of being declared a criminal organization.

In April 2002, six Greenpeace activists took action to save ourforests. After two of them boarded a commercial ship which was bringingillegal mahogany into the port of Miami, Florida, they pleaded guilty,were fined and sentenced to "time served" - the weekend they all spentin jail. The judicial process had run its course.

Or so we thought...

Fifteen months later Greenpeace USA headquarters in Washington wasserved notice that the U.S. Attorney General's office would beprosecuting the entire organization for the action - the first time inhistory that the U.S. Government has prosecuted an advocacy group for afree-speech related activity.

We were being prosecuted under an obscure 1872 law against"sailormongering." The bizarre law was originally designed todiscourage owners of inns and brothels from boarding ships, as they areabout to enter port, in order to lure the sailors into theirestablishments. It has only been used twice in its history.

Ultimately, the Bush administration's case against us was thrown outof court. Judge Adalberto Jordan acquitted us after accepting our claimthat the U.S. government provided insufficient evidence to the court.

Speaking from the Miami Federal Courthouse, Executive Director JohnPassacantando said, "America's tradition of free speech won a victorytoday, but our liberties are still not safe, the Bush administrationand its allies seem bent on stifling our tradition of civil protest, atradition that has made our country stronger throughout our history.

View a wrap-up from CBS news in Miami.

View reactions surrounding the trial from activists and supporters in Miami in this streaming video

Related documents

The latest updates


John Passacantando to step down as executive director of Greenpeace USA

Feature story | October 29, 2008 at 19:00

Greenpeace USA’s executive director, John Passacantando, has announced that he will step down at the end of 2008, capping an eight-year tenure that saw the organization weather some of its most difficult trials and achieve some of its greatest...

G8 - Environment Nil!

Feature story | July 9, 2008 at 18:00

When you're in the business of saving the future - and you give yourself a specific deadline, such as 2050 - you need to make sure that every single day between then and now counts. Unfortunately, the G8 Summit was a waste of three whole days.

President Bush Going the Wrong Way on Global Warming

Feature story | September 26, 2007 at 18:00

Update: All the activists have been released from jail after being arrested in front of the State Department building for participating in a global warming protest.

In the News

Feature story | June 16, 2004 at 18:00

Read editorials and articles from The New York Times,, The Miami Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, Harper's, The Guardian and more.

Read Updates from the Courtroom

Feature story | May 15, 2004 at 18:00

The case has been thrown out. Follow our weblog from Miami to get courtroom updates on the trial.

Bush vs. Greenpeace Overview

Feature story | May 9, 2004 at 18:00

Learn how the case against against us and the events surroundng it unfolded.

Activists Speak Out

Feature story | May 9, 2004 at 18:00

"On April 12, 2002 I was arrested in Miami along with several other Greenpeace activists for protesting a shipment of illegal mahogany into the United States...." Hear from some of the activists who were in Miami two years ago participating in...

Groups Demand Ashcroft Drop Greenpeace "Sailor-Mongering" Case, Support Americans'...

Feature story | December 10, 2003 at 18:00

Leaders from NAACP, American Friends Service Ctte., People For the American Way Join Greenpeace in Support of First Amendment Right to Dissent

Port of Miami Refuses Greenpeace Dock Space

Feature story | October 31, 2003 at 18:00

The Esperanza left anchorage in Miami and is now on her way to dry dock in Greece. The Coast Guard sent a cutter out to made sure we were going in the right direction... Find out about our time in Miami.

Video: View from the Ship

Feature story | October 30, 2003 at 18:00

How does it feel to be on a Greenpeace ship miles off the coast, unable to dock, with helicopters buzzing overhead and Coast Guard boats circling? Find out from the crew members on board.

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