Five peace activists charged over U.S.-Australian intelligence base protest

Five peace activists were arrested and charged Friday after protesting at a secretive U.S.-Australian intelligence base in the Outback, police said. Two men and a woman were caught cutting perimeter fences on Friday at the Pine Gap intelligence and communications complex outside the central Australian city of Alice Springs, police said in a statement.

Another man and a woman were arrested for trying to hang a banner outside the base's gates, the statement said. All five said they were members of a group called Christians Against All Terrorism.

One of the men arrested, Sean O'Reilly, said the group conducted a "citizens' inspection" to protest what they said was Pine Gap's involvement in the Iraq War. "We could not allow the U.S. and Australian governments to continue to conceal the role of Pine Gap in the ongoing war in Iraq," O'Reilly said. He did not elaborate.

Analysts say Pine Gap is used to monitor information from spy satellites and intercept communications. The protesters were to appear in court Wednesday to face charges that carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, the police statement said, reports the AP. I.L.

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