An e-mail from Greenpeace:
As a supporter of Greenpeace, you're going on trial on Monday for protecting the rainforest in the Amazon.
For the first time ever, the US government has decided to prosecute an entire organisation for exercising its right to free speech through non-violent protest.
The trial begins on May 17th, and results from a protest against an illegal shipment of mahogany headed for the Port of Miami in Florida two years ago. Unable to find a suitable law against calling attention to environmental crimes, the Attorney General has charged Greenpeace under an obscure 19th-century law designed to stop prostitutes from boarding sailing vessels.
If we are found guilty, it will mean being branded a criminal organisation
While Greenpeace is in the dock, those who logged, imported and sold the illegally imported mahogany continue to operate.
Not only is this a wholly unwarranted and politically motivated attack on an organisation that was attempting to prevent a crime, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for the future of free speech and the right to civil protest in the US. It could also be used as an example in other countries to curb non-violent direct action. The case has been attacked in articles and editorials in the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and Miami Herald. Senator Patrick Leahy of the US Judiciary Committee wrote to US Attorney General John Ashcroft saying his selective prosecution of Greenpeace could "have a chilling effect on free speech and activism of all kinds." Al Gore called the case "highly disturbing" in a speech to MoveOn members. Fellow environmental and civil rights groups have rallied to demand Ashcroft drop the case. But Ashcroft's not listening.
Now it's your turn to make sure we don't let this case go unchallenged. We need your help. Sign on to our letter demanding Bush and Ashcroft prosecute illegal loggers rather than Greenpeace. To date, 37,000 people have joined this appeal. We want to have 50,000 signatories by Monday. We need to show the US government that people all over the world are watching this trial. We need to remind them they can't silence Greenpeace without silencing everyone who supports Greenpeace.
Don't let Bush and Ashcroft silence you. Take action now:
Find out more about the case below:
Meet some of the people involved and the history of the action and prosecution:
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