Greenpeace has been charged for overstepping its role in exposing environmental abuses
at sea. In June this year, the IMO claimed that Greenpeace violated regulations aimed at ensuring safety at sea, when activists shadowed or boarded vessels to protest substandard tankers and shipments of nuclear material and GMOs. Greenpeace International’s consultative status at the IMO was under threat as a decision taken in June had expelled the international NGO from the IMO. Apparently press attention questioning the decision caused a strategic retreat, and the decision was forwarded to
the upcoming IMO Assembly. In the interim period, Greenpeace reached out to its
network of cyberactivists and was able to turn the tide and convince IMO to reject the proposal to evict it.

In a separate case, the US Justice Department is filing charges against Greenpeace
USA for allegedly breaking a 1872 law, when in 2002 two activists climbed onto a ship off the Florida coast to alert authorities that illegally exported mahogany from the Amazon rainforest was aboard. The law in question was originally created to prevent bar and brothel owners from enticing sailors to their businesses. If convicted, Greenpeace could
face a fine, be put on probation and lose its US tax-exempt status. The trial is scheduled for December.

John Passacantando, Greenpeace USA Director, highlighted that the attack is unprecedented in US history, stating that an organization has never been indicted for the free speech activities of its supporters. Former Vice President Al Gore recently called this charge “a highly disturbing criminal prosecution” that “appears to be aimed at inhibiting Greenpeace’s First Amendment activities.”

Links to further information

Greenpeace news, 21 November 2003 

Greenpeace USA Statement, 14 November 2003 

Ashcroft vs. Greenpeace
Overview by Greenpeace, 14 November 2003