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Thursday, 01 May 2008

Waihopai three in court, remanded in custody

Marlborough | Thursday, 01 May 2008
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 The three men accused of deflating a Waihopai Valley spy base dome with sickles have been remanded in custody until next week, following the attack on the listening post.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which runs the Marlborough base, says it is not sure how they managed to breach multiple security measures, but thick fog meant they were not seen on security cameras.

While opponents of the base say the organisation has egg on its face, the bureau is denying any embarrassment over the attack, which may have caused over $1 million worth of damage.

Samuel Peter Frederick Land, 24 of Hokianga, Adrian James Leason, 42, a teacher from Otaki and Peter Reginald Leo Murnane, 67, of Auckland have all been charged indictably with intentionally damaging a satellite, the property of the GCSB, and entering a building with the intention to commit a crime.

Following lengthy bail hearings in the Blenheim District Court yesterday, Judge Richard Russell remanded Leason and Murnane in custody without plea to reappear in court on Monday. Land's bail application was adjourned until Monday and he was also kept in custody.

The three men were arrested for the alleged sabotage attack yesterday morning, in which three security fences were cut through, and one of two inflatable globes covering satellite interception dishes at the base was deflated.

They were part of a group called Anzac Ploughshares  which aims to spread the message of disarmament by disabling warplanes and military equipment. The group's name comes from a biblical reference to turning swords into ploughshares.

Described as a satellite communications monitoring facility, opponents of the base say it is part of Echelon, the worldwide network of signals interception facilities run by American and British intelligence agencies and contributes to the war in Iraq.

As they were taken from the court into the police van Land said he was going on a five day hunger strike, and Leason said he would pray for those in Iraq, where one million people had died.
``The war in Iraq takes some explaining,'' Murnane said.

Meanwhile, GCSB deputy director for corporate services Hugh Wolfensohn said the attack had caused more than $1 million damage, but the base was still operating.

``There's been no significant reduction in work. Obviously there's been some (reduction) because we've got an antenna out of action.''

He did not know when repairs would take place.

Mr Wolfensohn said security measures at the base had obviously failed and a review will be completed ``as a high priority''.  He refused to comment on specific security details and what changes would take place.

However, the bureau and its staff were holding their heads high, he said.
``We don't embarrass easily.''

GCSB director Bruce Ferguson told Radio New Zealand that while it was obvious the activists had penetrated three fences before deflating the dome, it was unclear how other security devices failed to detect the intrusion.

Alarms were activated but CCTV footage was no help due to heavy fog, he said.

Anti-Bases Campaign spokesman Murray Horton congratulated the ANZAC Ploughshares group for a ``brilliant and courageous action today which has left one of Waihopai's Big Balls deflated and the secret state with egg all over its face''.

Mr Horton said ABC had always supported non-violent direct action in relation to Waihopai protests and yesterday's action was a textbook example.

It was a symbolic action where nobody got hurt and ``all that was damaged was, literally, a lot of very

expensive air, which will generate the usual outpouring of hot air from those left redfaced by this major security breach''.

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