Skip to main content

US: Anti-nuke nun Megan Rice jailed for facility break-in

84-year-old peace activist sentenced to 3 years for 'sabotage' at Oak Ridge nuclear site

An 84-year-old nun was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for her part in a protest break-in at a US nuclear material storage facility.

Megan Rice was convicted of sabotage earlier this year along with two other peace activists for their 2012 protest at the Oak Ridge site, which holds weapons-grade uranium.

Ms Rice, 64-year-old Michael Walli and 58-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed all received prison sentences, with the two men facing terms of 62 months each.

At the earlier hearing in January, a judge ordered the three to pay $53,000 (£32,000) — the price the government put on the damage done to the Y-12 nuclear plant.

The imprisoned activists are members of the Ploughshares movement, a Christian peace initiative founded in 1980.

They cut through fences at Oak Ridge, painted slogans on the outside wall of the uranium processing plant and splattered human blood on the wall.

The Department of Energy’s Inspector General later said that the “security breach” had exposed “troubling displays of ineptitude” at what is supposed to be “one of the most secure facilities in the US.”

The protesters’ colleagues say that it was embarrassment at the ease with which three elderly people breached security measures that sparked the hefty sentences.

The National Nuclear Security Administration spends $150 million (£90m) a year on security at the site.

The activists say their actions were symbolic and meant to draw attention to the US stockpile of nuclear weapons, which they call immoral and illegal.

“These people have been committed peace and justice advocates for decades,” defence attorney Bill Quigley said.

Ms Rice and her co-defendants have been in prison, mostly in Ocilla, Georgia, for nine months, a period her lawyers had argued was sufficient punishment for the break-in.

They have presented the judge with thousands of support letters from around the world, which Mr Quigley said was the greatest show of support he has seen in two decades of working with protesters.

OWNED BY OUR READERS

We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 11,954
We need:£ 6,046
8 Days remaining
Donate today