An 84-year-old Catholic nun has been sentenced to 35 months in prison after breaking into one of the U.S. government’s most secure facilities and helping deface a uranium-processing building with human blood.
Megan Rice, an octogenarian nun and seasoned peace activist, along with fellow protesters Greg Boertje-Obed, 58 and Michael Walli, 64 were convicted in May for sabotaging the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012. All three are members of the Plowshares movement of Christian pacifists.
The nun and her two accomplices broke into the nuclear weapons complex by cutting through three fences with bolt cutters and sneaking past dogs and armed guards and a sign warning that trespassers risk becoming subject to deadly force.
Once inside, the group splattered human blood on the wall of a $548 million storage bunker containing much of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium, spray painted Biblical slogans of peace, and defaced the exterior of the complex with a hammer.
“The protesters put themselves at a high risk of losing their life in performing this act,” a National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman has said. “We are thankful that did not occur.”
The three spent more than two hours inside the restricted area before guards found them singing and hanging banners. They reportedly invited the guards to break bread with them and offered the guards a Bible, candles, and flowers.
Although officials claimed there was never any danger of the protesters reaching materials that could be detonated or made into a dirty bomb, the break-in raised questions about the safekeeping at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. The facility holds the nation’s primary supply of bomb-grade uranium and was known as the “Fort Knox of uranium.”
U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar sentenced Rice to 35 months in prison for her role in the July 28, 2012, break-in and protest. The judge sentenced Walli and Boertje-Obed to five years and two months in prison.
Previously, Thapar ordered the trio to pay nearly $53,000 in restitution for damaging U.S. government property. In addition, Walli and Boertje-Obed will have three years of supervised release after their prison terms. The two men received longer sentences based on their past criminal history.
Nun Sentenced To Prison for Nuclear Break-in
A federal judge has sentenced an 84-year-old nun to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a Tennessee nuclear weapons complex.