Satellites, citizens and secrets: R v Law and others

8 Sep 2008

Russell Goldflam of the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission writes on the overturning on appeal of convictions of four Australian peace activists following their December 2005 incursion into the top secret Pine Gap electronic intelligence facility near Alice Springs in Central Australia in protest against the role of the base in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Civil disobedience”, Goldflam writes, “exposes those who engage in it to the risk of vigorous litigation, substantial penalties, and public opprobrium. It also exposes the state to risk: police and prosecution agencies may be embarrassed, confidence in the legal system can be impaired, and public support for important government decisions can be undermined.” “The accused”, Goldflam concludes, “had always said they wanted to put Pine Gap on trial. In the end it was effectively held that they were entitled to do just that in the unique context of their particular prosecution.”

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