A nun was convicted on Wednesday of interfering with national security, along with two others. The 83-year-old nun and her fellow protestors broke into a nuclear weapons facility and defaced a uranium processing plant. The three protestors are Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed.
The convicted nun was found guilty of a charge of sabotage and damaging federal property. Her two fellow protestors were also convicted. The verdict took place at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge in July.
The convicted nun and her two cohorts hung banners, strung crime-scene tape and hammered off a small chunk of the "Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. Wednesday's testimony from the convicted nun saw a complete lack of remorse, prompting Prosecutor Jeff Theodore to say that the government opposes the trio's release.
The three people said they were pleased to reach one of the most secure parts of the facility. "My regret was I waited 70 years," the convicted nun said. "It is manufacturing that which can only cause death." Rice and company appeared in court on Thursday in handcuffs and leg irons; they appeared before U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar.
The break-in to the nuclear weapons facility caused a great deal of embarrassment for the federal prosecutors. Defense lawyers for Rice, Walli, and Boertje-Obed said that the prosecutors overreached in the charges because of their humiliation over the fact that someone was able to break into the plant.
The break-in by the convicted nun and two partners caused a temporary shutdown of the facility. A change in security contractors was also implemented to avoid future break-in protests. The defense argued that the protestors were actually helping national security by exposing security flaws at the facility, to no avail.
The convicted nun's defense attorney also claim that the three don't pose a significant threat to the U.S. "Three senior citizens showing up with backpacks is a threat to the United States of America?" defense attorney William Quigley asked the court. "That threatens us? I don't think so."
The convicted nun, Walli, and Boertje-Obed could get up to 20 years in prison on the count of national security. The two felonies together carry a maximum sence of 30 years in prison. The defense has asked Judge Thapar to throw out the national security charge on the grounds of insufficient evidence which falls under "sabotage" in U.S. code.