U.S. appeals court overturns sabotage conviction against nun

Reuters News
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Posted: May 08, 2015 1:45 PM

(Reuters) - A U.S. appellate court on Friday overturned sabotage convictions against an elderly nun and two other peace activists for breaking into a Tennessee nuclear defense facility in 2012.

Megan Rice, 85, was sentenced to three years for the break-in at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, an incident that embarrassed U.S. officials and prompted security changes.

In a 2-1 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also reversed sabotage convictions against two U.S. Army veterans, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed. The panel found that the three lacked the necessary intent for a violation of the federal Sabotage Act.

Walli and Boertje-Obed had received five years in prison. The court upheld their convictions for the less serious crime of injury to government property and ordered them to be resentenced.

The three were convicted of cutting fences to get into the facility the night of July 28, 2012. They admitted to spray painting peace slogans and hanging banners. When a guard confronted them, they offered him food and began singing.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Bill Trott)