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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 15:27 GMT
Base arrest women were protesting
Menwith Hill
The base is the largest electronic monitoring station in the world
Two women were protesting against anti-terror laws when they were held at a US military base on the first day the laws could be enforced, a court heard.

Helen John, 69 and Sylvia Boyes, 63, were charged with the new offence of criminal trespass at RAF Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire, on 1 April last year.

It was the day the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act came into force.

The women, both from Keighley, West Yorkshire, deny the charge and are on trial at Harrogate Magistrates' Court.

Claw hammer

Anthony Dunne, prosecuting, said the pair made their way around the base's outermost security barriers and were stopped within seconds by armed officers from the Ministry of Defence Police.

The court heard the women were wearing sandwich boards with the slogans "This land is not yours to put boundaries around", "No to Star Wars" and "April 1st 2006 Trespass becomes a criminal offence".

After their arrests Mrs Boyes of Wren Street, Keighley, was found to be carrying a claw hammer and Mrs John, of Wimborne Drive, a pair of large cable cutters which they both said they intended to use to enter the site.

Mr Dunne said both women had explained to police in interviews that they were opposed to the new law and had set out to challenge its provisions.

District judge Martin Walker heard that Mrs John gave a written statement to police when she was charged on 19 June last year.

'Wage peace'

It read: "This Act is a severe blow to civil liberties and human rights. It was not designed to protect the civil population from acts of terrorism or other criminal acts."

Earlier, when interviewed by police, Mrs John gave another statement which read: "I refuse to obey the new anti-trespass laws that have been made operational today.

"This base, Menwith Hill, is as dangerous as any concentration camp found in Nazi Germany in World War Two, the major difference being that previously all the people who were to be killed were behind the fences that held them captive."




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