Spy trial shifted to capital

The trial of three peace activists accused of damaging one of the Waihopai spy base domes will be held in Wellington rather than Blenheim.

All details about the decision, made this week by District Court Judge Stephen Harrop, are suppressed.

On April 30 last year, Auckland Dominican friar and Catholic priest Peter Murnane, Hokianga farmer Sam Land and Otaki organic gardener Adrian Leason were charged with causing intentional damage and entering a building with intent to commit a crime.

It was reported that sickles were used to deflate one of two 30-metre domes covering the base's satellite dishes.

All three men were members of the Ploughshares peace group, which takes its name from a biblical proverb about turning weapons into ploughshares.

This morning, Leason's Christchurch lawyer Mike Knowles was contacted by The Marlborough Express and asked why the trial was being moved to Wellington.

In a curt statement, he said all information had been suppressed by a judge, then terminated the call.

The Waihopai base, operated by the Government Communications Security Bureau, has long been a source of controversy.

A protest is organised annually by peace activists, who say Waihopai provides intelligence to the Pentagon and is New Zealand's most important contribution to the United States military network (Echelon).

SEE ALSO http://www.openureyes.org.nz/blog/?q=node/1049