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Activists break-in at U.S. military site in Sicily

Protesters disrupt MUOS construction

22 April, 20:17
Activists break-in at U.S. military site in Sicily (ANSA) - Niscemi, April 22 - A group of activists were arrested Monday after they broke into an American military installation under construction in Sicily and climbed a giant antenna.

Authorities say that at least seven people climbed over the fence surrounding the site to protest construction of a controversial US military satellite-communications system in the Sicilian town of Niscemi.

They face charges ranging from resisting a police officer to tampering with electrical wiring on the site.

The so-called "No-MUOS" group includes local residents who are fiercely opposed to the plan to build the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).

They say they fear it will pose environmental and health risks. The United States embassy in Rome quickly condemned the break-in.

"The illegal encroachment by demonstrators in a military structure and the deliberate and irresponsible destruction of property of the United States have endangered both the protesters and their rescuers," it said in a statement.

Italy's defense ministry defended the system as "essential for NATO operations in the Mediterranean and therefore, for national security". Police say that some of the activists who broke into the construction site were known from other protests, including the TAV rail project in northern Italy.

The military project in Sicily was temporarily suspended by the regional government in January after activists blocked construction crews and later clashed with police near an American military base.

The site is part of a global satellite defense network, which authorities say will aid US and NATO military operations, as well as relief efforts.