Police seek first arrest warrants for foreigners in naval base protests
JEJU ISLAND, South Korea, March 14 (Yonhap) -- Police said Wednesday they have requested arrest warrants for two foreign activists on charges of destroying public property during protests against the construction of a contentious naval base on Jeju Island.
Briton Angie Zelter is accused of breaking into the construction site in Gangjeong Village on the southern tip of the resort island Friday evening after cutting down barbed-wire fences, according to the Seogwipo Police Station. Meanwhile, French activist Benjamin Monnet allegedly trespassed onto the site and climbed a crane on the same day.
The two are the first foreigners facing arrest warrants in the protest against the naval base construction.
The project, first launched in 2007 and scheduled to be completed by 2014, has been one of the most controversial issues in South Korea as local residents, opposition parties, and other environmental activists have staged strong oppositions against it.
Tensions escalated when the Navy and a local construction firm blew up part of a rocky outcropping known as Gureombi last Wednesday, initiating a key part of the construction work.
Zelter, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is most notably known for spearheading efforts to tear down the fences around U.S. military bases in Britain in the 1980s. She has been arrested more than 100 times in half a dozen countries during her work as a peace activist.
Police also sought a warrant for a South Korean activist, only known by the family name Kim, on charges of obstructing police executing their duties during protests along with Monnet on Monday.
Meanwhile, the police said they have released 13 local activists and residents who were arrested on the same day.