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Trial Looms for Nuclear Weapon Opponents

KNOXVILLE (CN) - The U.S. government can proceed with charges against 13 anti-nuclear activists who allegedly trespassed on a government weapons facility, a federal magistrate judge ruled.

The protesters were arrested in July 2010 after they entered the Y-12 National Security Complex, an Oak Ridge facility controlled by the National Nuclear Security Administration and U.S. Department of Energy.

They asked U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton about a month later to dismiss the one-count information against them. The government moved a month after that to preclude the defendants from citing international laws to justify their conduct.

Guyton ruled against the protesters in both respects on Friday.

"The fact that the Defendants felt compelled to enter onto the Y-12 National Security Complex by their own moral, political, and religious beliefs; their desire to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech or religion; their desire to comply with international law; or their desire to prevent future death and destruction from the use of nuclear weapons does not constitute a legal defense to the charge in the Information and is not relevant at trial," Guyton wrote.

On Tuesday, Guyton also rejected the defendants attempt to use a questionnaire to facilitate jury selection. "The Court finds that what little benefit would be gained by the use of the jury questionnaire is greatly outweighed by the burden such a questionnaire would impose on the potential jurors," Guyton wrote.

Trial is scheduled to start Monday.

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