Waihopai suit 'stupid, intimidating'

The damaged satellite dome at Waihopai satellite communications interception station. Photo / Tim Cuff
The damaged satellite dome at Waihopai satellite communications interception station. Photo / Tim Cuff

Green MP Keith Locke is warning the Government the lawsuit it is bringing against the Waihopai spy base saboteurs may backfire.

"The defendants and people who are concerned about the Waihopai base will see it as an opportunity to get more information on what's really going on there - what is being done in our name," said Mr Locke, who said the "stupid and intimidating" move was a waste of taxpayers' money.

Green Party MP Keith Locke said pursuing a civil case against the men would be a waste of taxpayer money.

"The GCSB should respect the jury's decision, which found the Waihopai three not guilty," he said.

He said in the original trial the GCSB didn't even put up witnesses to challenge the political arguments the defendants used, and this time around its case would be handicapped by its reluctance to tell a court anything about the secretive Waihopai base.

"Rather than continue to harass the three peace activists, the GCSB should explain to New Zealanders what is really going on at Waihopai."

The Crown today filed court papers seeking damages from three men acquitted over damage they caused to equipment at the Waihopai spy base near Blenheim in 2008.

Teacher Adrian Leason, Dominican friar Peter Murnane and farmer Sam Land were found not guilty in April on charges of burglary and wilful damage of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) base.

They had cut through alarmed electric fences without setting off any audible alarms or getting electrocuted before reaching one of two inflatable domes covering satellite dishes and slashing and deflating it.

The trio used the "claim of right" defence and said they were saving lives in Iraq by disrupting satellite transmissions and were acting for the greater good.

A jury in Wellington District Court found them not guilty.

A spokesman from Attorney-General Chris Finlayson's office said today court papers had been filed in the name of the Attorney-General for the GCSB to recover damages caused by the men's actions. No further comment would be made as the case was before the courts.

After the court case Solicitor-General David Collins ruled out appealing, but said the Crown may consider suing over the damage, estimated to be $1.1 million.

Graham Cameron, a spokesman for the trio, told NZPA today it was always a possibility a civil case would be taken against the men and the Crown had had a long time to consider it.

"Obviously it's regrettable, but it's not unexpected," he said of the decision.

He said the trio had gone through a lengthy process first time around and the decision from the court had been clear cut.

"I have spoken to two of them this morning and they are both prepared to go into this process in the same way they did with the other - which is to be open and honest about why and what they did."

Mr Cameron said if there were any positives to take from further court action, it was that it would be another chance for them to question the role of the base.

- NZPA and Newstalk ZB

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