Eight protesters arrested at RAF Lakenheath gate
October 3, 2006
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Eight people were arrested Monday morning at this air base after breaking through a perimeter fence and chaining themselves to a gate in a protest against weapons storage at the site.
Two men and six women, who are believed to be British, were spotted by security personnel at about 8 a.m., said Steve Partridge, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence police, which provides security at the base.
Neither Partridge nor Air Force officials would say exactly where along the fence the protesters broke in. Their names were not immediately available.
The eight were soon cut free, with half the group taken to a Newmarket police station for processing and the rest going to the Mildenhall station, he said.
It was not clear as of Monday afternoon whether the eight would be charged, though Partridge said it appeared likely that they’d be released on the condition that they would return if authorities have further questions. “It basically gives police more time to investigate the issue,” he said.
If they’re charged with suspicion of criminal trespass, the maximum sentence includes imprisonment for 51 weeks or a 5,000-pound fine, or both, he said.
Numerous groups have staged protests at the air base. Last weekend, a group called the Lakenheath Action Group staged a protest over the more than 100 nuclear weapons they claim are stored at the base.
Some of the eight suspects from Monday’s break-in were members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which also took part in Sunday’s protests, but spokesman Rick Wayman said the intrusion on Monday was not sanctioned by the CND.
The CND’s local chapter said in a release on Monday that those who broke in claim to have seen cluster bombs at the base.
Cluster bombs have become a subject of controversy because many remain unexploded throughout southern Lebanon as a result of the Israeli-Hezbollah war earlier this year. The U.S. was accused by protesters of sending weapons through the United Kingdom to Israel during the war.
Partridge said the protesters did not reach sensitive areas on the base.