Terror Charges for GM Crops Action (14/5/2005)

Go into a building, hang up a banner... and get prosecuted under laws against terrorism!

Greenpeace Charged Under Danish Terror Law for GM Crops Action
Denmark Radio web site, Copenhagen, in Danish 0823 gmt May 12, 2005; BBC Monitoring Intl

The environmental organization Greenpeace has become the first body to be charged under the provisions of the anti-terrorism package over a protest action against genetic modification. This conflicts with the aim of the anti-terrorism legislation, several Danish parliamentarians have said.

Usually triggers a fine

On 13 October 2003 Greenpeace carried out an action against genetically-modified crops at Danish agriculture's headquarters at Axelborg in Copenhagen. Activists entered Axelborg illegally and hung up a giant banner. Greenpeace activists have used the same tactics in scores of previous actions and this usually triggers a fine for each individual activist.

Greenpeace is now also being charged for the first time under a section of the so-called terror package. "When the terror package was introduced it included a provision that companies which did something illegal could be charged. However, it was quite clear that there was a desire to hit organizations which support terrorism. Now there is an attempt to use it on a body as peaceful as Greenpeace," says Greenpeace lawyer Steen Bech.

Completely different application

Greenpeace has been charged under section 306 of the criminal code, which was amended when the Folketing [Danish parliament] produced the terror package in such a way that it is now possible to charge the entire Greenpeace organization for the conduct of a few activists.

"And it has to be said that this is a completely different application than the Folketing intended. It is therefore alarming that the prosecuting authorities have brought charges, but interesting to see how the courts will rule," Steen Bech says.

He has political support.

"If the section is now applied broadly in order to restrict political debate then we will have to look at rewriting the section," says Sandy Brinck, Social-Democrat member of the Justice Committee.

"During the debate we warned against it being used for something which was not the intention, so the fear now is that this will actually happen," says Anne Baastrup, Socialist People's Party Justice Committee member.

Covert actions

According to Steen Bech there are two dangers when the terror package is used on grass-roots organizations such as Greenpeace. "We strangle grassroots political activity. There will also be a trend towards conducting these sort of actions covertly. And that is something which we are not at all interested in - we want these issues to be out in the open," Steen Bech says.

The court case against Greenpeace is to begin in mid-June. Justice Minister Lene Espersen will not comment until the case has been dealt with by the courts.

Greenpeace charged with terrorism
12 May 2005

Greenpeace has been charged with terrorism for a 2003 action. Politicians who supported the country's terrorism laws are against the move

Environmental organisation Greenpeace has been charged with terrorism, making it the first organisation to be charged under the country's terrorism laws passed in the wake of the World Trade Centre terror actions.

The charge stems from a 2003 action in which the organisation protested genetically modified crops by hanging a banner on the headquarters of a Danish agricultural organisation. Greenpeace often uses that type of action to draw attention to its causes, which usually results in a fine for those activists participating in the action.

The charge against Greenpeace is based on law change that allows entire organisations to be prosecuted for the acts of individual members.

'When the terrorism laws were implemented, a rule was made so that organisations that did something illegal could be punished. But it was clear that the point was to target organisations that supported terrorism. Now, they are trying to use it against a peaceful group like Greenpeace,' said Greenpeace's attorney Steen Beck to national broadcaster DR.

The charge also has some in parliament concerned that the terror law is being misused.

'If the law is being used to stifle political debate, then we'll need to look into narrowing it down,' said Sandy Brinck, an opposition Social Democratic member of the parliament's judiciary committee.

The matter was a case of 'I told you so' for other opposition parties.

'During the debate, we warned that the law could be used in ways that it wasn't meant to, and now the fear is that it actually will be,' said Socialist member of the judiciary committee Anne Baastrup.

Justice Minister Lene Espersen refused to comment on the case until the courts had made a decision.


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