National Missile Defence / PineGap / Star Wars

War protesters 'switch off' defence satellite dish

Reid Sexton & Dan Oakes. April 1, 2010

Four anti-war protesters claim they tampered with a satellite dish and power supply at a secretive Victorian military base yesterday before being detected and arrested by police.

The activists allegedly broke into the Swan Island defence base, where spies and special police units are believed to receive SAS training, in Port Phillip Bay about 6am.

They will not say how they got over the fence but claim to have spent up to two hours inside before being caught, despite making no attempt to hide. The group of Christian activists called the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective says it split in two after breaching the perimeter.

The first group allegedly went to the centre of the facility.

Protester Jessica Morrison said they opened a switchboard and turned off the two main switches, which security later told her cut power in the area.

They then came across a 10-metre satellite dish, she said, and hit a button marked ''emergency stop''. She said it was not until she and Baptist minister Simon Moyle approached a building with a civilian security guard in it at 8am that police were called. The second group allegedly went to block the base's front gate and unveiled a ''Closed War Out of Order!'' banner. Ms Morrison said the stunt was in protest at war in Afghanistan.

Police yesterday confirmed they arrested four people at Swan Island . All four have been charged with one count of trespassing on Commonwealth property land and will face the Geelong Magistrates Court on May 12. A Defence spokeswoman refused to deny the satellite dish had been switched off, saying only: ''Defence operations are unaffected.''