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The BBC's Robert Hall
"Clearing Menwith Hill of its unwelcome visitors may take some time"
 real 56k

Greenpeace's Andy Tate
"Greenpeace is committed to try and stop 'Star Wars'"
 real 28k

Helen Wallace, Protester
"We are calling on Tony Blair to send a strong signal to President Bush to stop this dangerous plan"
 real 28k

The BBC's John Thorne
"Twenty five Greenpeace activists re-entered the base"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK
US spy base protest ends
Activists on top of water tower
Activists climbed to the top of the water tower
Greenpeace protesters have ended a demonstration at a defence site in north Yorkshire after 15 hours.

The final two protesters came down from a radio mast at the Menwith Hill defence site on Wednesday night after a group broke into it for the second time in two days.

Ministry of Defence police had evicted up to 150 protesters from the site near Harrogate, north Yorkshire, 24 hours after they broke in on Tuesday morning.

But 20 burst back in through the perimeter fence on Wednesday, to join the one protester left behind.

Police arresting protester
Some arrests have been made

Most were immediately rugby-tackled and ejected by police, but three managed to climb up radio masts to join "Ricko" from New Zealand.

Ricko - real name Richard Carlson, 29, who now lives in London - was later brought out by police.

He said he had agreed to come down because he had been growing dehydrated, and felt his point had been made.

Another protester also came down from her mast after three hours.

Two protesters remained at the site, but voluntarily surrendered to MoD police at 2210BST on Wednesday.

Four arrests have been made, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokeswoman said, for civil offences such as criminal damage.

She stressed that the protesters had not been "offensive".

Mission impossible

The environmental activists were protesting against the site's possible use in the planned American missile defence system "Son of Star Wars".

Activists from another group, the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases, staged another protest on Wednesday.

They were driving a convoy of about a dozen vehicles from Menwith Hill to the similar site at Fylingdales, about 50 miles away, as part of an annual 4 July protest against American militarisation.

The MoD has refused to comment on the ease with which the activists got into the site - a radar and communications station shared between the RAF and the US military.

Protesters outside Menwith Hill
Protesters say they simply strolled through the main gate of the site
Greenpeace said some of its protesters had simply walked through the main gate on Tuesday - and on Wednesday they had climbed through a hole in the fence made the previous day.

Some of them played the Mission Impossible theme tune while others dressed as missiles and carried flags emblazoned with the message "Star Wars Starts Wars".

Other teams scaled the three-metre perimeter fence, topped with razor wire, to get in.

'No to UK involvement'

The proposed "Son of Star Wars" - or National Missile Defence - system is intended to protect the US and its allies from long-range bomb attacks, by using interceptor missiles.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he has taken no decision on whether to back the project - but his spokesman has signalled broad support.

But there is concern that the system is flawed, would break treaties with Russia, and could trigger a nuclear arms race.

Greenpeace believes Menwith Hill would be used to transmit information on missile location and trajectory back to the US, to help with targeting for interceptor missiles.

Greenpeace UK executive director Stephen Tindale called on Mr Blair to turn down US requests to use the site, or the similar base at Fylingdales.

"We urge Mr Blair not to kowtow to Bush on such a crucial issue. He must say no to UK involvement," Mr Tindale said.

He said the system was dangerous, destabilising, and a "disaster".

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22 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'Star wars threatens new arms race'
04 Jul 01 | UK
The Battle of Menwith
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