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
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
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
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