Nun Convicted of Defacing Nuclear Plant, Faces 20 Years in Prison

Image: Nun Convicted of Defacing Nuclear Plant, Faces 20 Years in Prison Anti-nuclear activists Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli in Knoxville, TN on February 6, 2013.

Thursday, 09 May 2013 12:57 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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An 83-year-old activist nun was convicted with two other protesters Wednesday for breaking into a Tennessee nuclear facility and defacing a uranium processing plant in July.

Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 56, were charged with interfering with national security after they cut through fences to get into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in July.

The trio, who belong to a group called Transform Now Plowshares, reportedly caused $8,500 worth of damage at the facility after they spray-painted words, strung crime scene tape around, and chipped walls with hammers during the break-in.

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They also sprayed the exterior of the complex with baby bottles containing human blood, according to the BBC.

When a guard approached them, they reportedly offered him food and broke out into song.

Defense lawyers argued that the break-in and vandalism were symbolic and never meant to hurt the facility. In court Wednesday, Rice said she had no remorse for her actions.

"My regret was I waited 70 years," Rice reportedly said in court. "[The plant] is manufacturing that which can only cause death."

Her accomplices also said they had no regrets.

"Nuclear weapons do not provide security," Boertje-Obed said. "Our actions were providing real security and exposing false security."

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Congress launched an investigation into the site's security after the break-in and found "troubling displays of ineptitude." As a result, top officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration were reassigned and the security company that patrolled the facility was dismissed.

The three face up to 20 years in prison after their conviction for sabotaging the plant, which was first constructed during the Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear bomb.

Related stories:

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