activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: australia

australian activist responsible for fake press release unlikely to spend time in jail

In January 2013, Jonathan Moylan issued a fake press release stating that ANZ bank had withdrawn $1.2 billion in financing from Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine. Moylan copied the bank’s logo, used a communications spokesperson’s name, changed his voicemail, and set up a new email address for the prank. Various media outlets ran the story before it was confirmed as a hoax.

Moylan, who had six prior convictions related to environmental protests, pled guilty in May 2014 to disseminating false information to the market. He faced up to 10 years in prison, but the prosecution recently said it would not press for any jail time. According to a June 12 Guardian article, the Front Line Action on Coal camp continues to protest the Maules Creek mine, even though corporate spies apparently infiltrated the camp over the past several months:

The suspected spies spent time with the group, gaining their trust and learning the secrets of the community that is spearheading the resistance. … Many of the community face daily roadblocks, car searches and stops by police as they continue to take action against the winter clearing of the forest. But the activists have no plans to stop.

graeme dunstan avoids imprisonment for his role in anti-war property destruction

In July 2011, Graeme Dunstan assisted a fellow activist, Bryan Law, who smashed a hole in an Australian military helicopter using a garden mattock. Law died this past April. Dunstan, 71, represented himself at trial, where the jury saw video footage of Dunstan’s police interview, taken after his arrest. According to an ABC News article,

In the video, Dunstan admitted he drove his late co-accused Bryan Law to the Rockhampton airfield, opened a gate after a chain had been cut and took photos of him riding a red tricycle onto the civil aviation area before he allegedly chopped at a Tiger helicopter with a garden mattock. Dunstan said Mr Law’s act was symbolic and “spectacular” and he tried to assist however he could.

Yesterday the jury found Dunstan guilty. He was sentenced to three years of ‘good behavior,’ meaning he isn’t supposed to break the law during that time. He was also ordered to pay more than $160,000. Money will be deducted from his pension payments, but it’s unlikely the full amount will be recovered.

The helicopter was worth $45 million and was grounded for four months. In addition to seeing footage of Dunstan’s police interview, the jury also saw footage of a U.S. helicopter gunship attack that killed two Reuters journalists (and ten other people) in Baghdad in 2007. Chelsea Manning heroically leaked that footage.