Justice Department Trial Against Greenpeace Begins

The U.S. is suing Greenpeace over an 1872 law. Trial began today. We've written about the background of the case and criticized the Government for it several times--calling it an example of the Justice Dept.'s "out of control prosecution policy" and warning that:

If successful, will have an extreme chilling effect on the right of all protest groups to aggressively exercise their First Amendment rights.

Never before has our government criminally prosecuted an entire organization for the free speech activities of its supporters.

The basic facts:

Three miles off the Florida coast in April of 2002, two Greenpeace activists clambered from an inflatable rubber speedboat onto a cargo ship. They were detained before they could unfurl a banner, spent the weekend in custody and two months later were sentenced to time served for boarding the ship without permission. It was a routine act of civil disobedience until, 15 months after the incident, federal prosecutors in Miami indicted Greenpeace itself for authorizing the boarding. The group says the indictment represents a turning point in the history of American dissent.

More background here. Today's trial news is here.

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