German nuclear resister jailed for 2012 train blockade

Photo by Julia Moras

In Germany, where nonviolent political blockades have been mostly decriminalized, an anti-nuclear activist who refused to pay a record €1650 fine has gone to jail instead.

In 2012, Hanna Poddig and others blocked a uranium transport train. The action was part of an international campaign targeting the production of uranium reactor fuel that involves several facilities across Europe. The train was forced to return to the fuel fabrication plant in Gronau. The Gronau plant has supplied fuel rods for a tritium production reactor in South Carolina, a direct link between civilian and military nuclear programs.

On May 11, Hanna Poddig turned herself in to the jail at Hildesheim, where she could serve up to 110 days in lieu of the fine.

“Of course I could pay the fine,” she said, “but that would make the punishment less visible. [This is] the highest penalty ever imposed on an arrest warrant. It is important for me to make this at least public.”

Another woman who took part in the same protest, well-known rope-climbing activist Cecile Lecomte, had her fine reduced to only €20, or one night in jail. The warden paid it, apparently to avoid the publicity that could accompany her imprisonment.

Supporters have pledged enough towards her fine that Poddig may be released after serving four weeks. Pointing to the “absurdity of the system”, she noted that just two weeks imprisonment will cost the state more than her fine would have brought in.

Letters of support can be sent to Poddig at the address found here.