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

The latest updates

 

Indictment against Greenpeace

Publication | October 12, 2003 at 18:00

Indictment against Greenpeace, July 18, 2003

Greenpeace's motion to dismiss the indictment

Publication | October 5, 2003 at 18:00

Greenpeace's motion to dismiss the indictment

Greenpeace's motion for discovery under Brady v. Maryland

Publication | October 5, 2003 at 18:00

Greenpeace's motion for discovery under Brady v. Maryland

Greenpeace's motion for discovery on its claim of selective prosecution

Publication | October 5, 2003 at 18:00

Greenpeace's motion for discovery on its claim of selective prosecution

Greenpeace's motion for a jury trial

Publication | October 2, 2003 at 18:00

Greenpeace's motion for a jury trial

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