Released From Prison, Nuclear Protest Nun Now Likely To Stay Free

June 22, 2015
A sign warns against trespassing onto the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Sister Megan Rice and two other anti-war protesters cut through three fences and spray-painted slogans on the wall of a weapons-grade uranium facility in 2012.

Federal prosecutors in Tennessee have notified an 85-year-old nun they will not seek to reinstate her sabotage conviction for breaking into a nuclear facility.

Defense lawyer Marc Shapiro, who is handling the case pro bono for Sister Megan Rice and two male accomplices, told NPR on Monday he got word from the U.S. attorney’s office in Knoxville that the Justice Department would not seek a rehearing by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, nor would it ask the Supreme Court to review the case. Last month, a three-judge panel threw out the sabotage conviction, ruling that the defendants’ 2012 protest in Oak Ridge, Tenn., did nothing to injure the national defense.

Within days of that ruling, authorities released Rice from a detention center in Brooklyn. Two others who took part in the disruption also were set free. Shapiro, their lawyer, said all three already had served more time than necessary given their conviction on the most serious charge had been rejected by the appeals court. He said the lower court had not yet set a date for resentencing any of the defendants.

Rice’s treatment behind bars drew attention this year after her supporters in the anti-nuclear movement reported she had lost a tooth and was being housed in unfair conditions.

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