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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Judge demands US spy base details
Menwith Hill monitoring station
The base is the largest electronic monitoring station in the world
A judge has ordered that operational details of a US military spy base be brought before a court.

District Judge Martin Walker made his demand during a resumed hearing into the case of veteran peace protesters Helen John, 69, and Sylvia Boyes, 63.

The grandmothers were arrested as they entered RAF Menwith Hill near Harrogate in North Yorkshire last April.

The women, both from Keighley, West Yorks, deny criminal trespass under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

The case at Harrogate Magistrates' Court was adjourned on Tuesday - provisionally until 8 June - to give defence and prosecution lawyers more time to prepare legal documents.

'Bad faith'

But Judge Walker said he wanted to know what the spy base did, whether it was considered British or American territory and who ran it.

He said: "Who is the commander? Who presses the button on any weapons? Who authorises any weapons to be used?"

The trial was also halted in March after Mrs John introduced new case law, accusing the government of acting in "bad faith" when they labelled a US military spy base as a designated site under new anti-terror laws.

The women were arrested on 1 April 2006 - the first day that the law could be enforced.

After their arrest, Mrs Boyes was found to be carrying a claw hammer and Mrs John a pair of cable-cutters, which they both said they intended to use to enter the site.

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

In a written statement to police Mrs John claimed that the base was not crown property but was operated wholly in the interests of the US.

A report from outside the court

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