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BURY ST. EDMUNDS, England — Eight British peace activists pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges they broke onto RAF Lakenheath and chained themselves to a gate last fall, authorities said.

The eight suspects — six women and two men ranging in age from 24 to 61 — are scheduled to have a pretrial hearing March 6. The trial likely will not be held for about six months, according to the Bury St. Edmunds Magistrates’ Court.

All eight are being charged with criminal trespassing under Britain’s Serious Organized Crime and Police Act, which was enacted in April 2005 to protect sensitive government sites. They also face criminal damage charges for slicing the RAF Lakenheath fence.

The suspects were arrested Oct. 2, 2006, by British Ministry of Defence police after they allegedly breached the security perimeter and chained themselves to a fence.

Seven of the eight suspects have been identified by the ministry as Lesley Anderson, 24, Muckhart, Scotland; Melanie Harrison, 35, Mettingham, Suffolk; Leslie Grahame, 47, Norwich, Norfolk; Margaret Moss, 56, Norwich; Peter Lux, 44, Norwich; Irene Willis, 61, Canvey Island, Essex; and Richard Rushmer, 37, Old Lakenham, Norfolk.

Three Royal Air Force installations that are host to U.S. military units are protected under the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act. RAF Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall and RAF Menwith Hill are three of the 14 military installations in the United Kingdom that are protected by the law, according to the Ministry of Defence.

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