Days after a federal court overturned the 2013 sabotage convictions of 85-year-old nun Megan Rice, 66-year-old Michael Walli, and 59-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, a judge has ordered the immediate release of the three anti-nuclear activists who have already spent two years in prison.
The Associated Press reports that after the close of business on Friday, attorney Bill Quigley said the court had ordered the activists' immediate release. He said he was working to get them out of prison and was hopeful they could be released overnight or on the weekend.
"We would expect the Bureau of Prisons to follow the order of the court and release them as soon as possible," he said.
The Catholic peace activists are members of the group Transform Now Plowshares, which called the development an "amazing turn of events."
In July 2012, Rice, Walli, and Boertje-Obed cut a fence to enter the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Once inside the nuclear facility, they walked around, spray-painted graffiti, strung out crime-scene tape, and chipped a wall with hammers. They spent two hours inside the site, which stores much of the nation's bomb-grade uranium.
At the trial, Rice said her only regret was waiting so long to stage her protest. In a statement before the trio was sentenced, Rice declared: "We have to speak, and we’re happy to die for that. To remain in prison for the rest of my life is the greatest honor that you could give me. Please don’t be lenient with me. It would be an honor for that to happen."
Rice was originally sentenced to 35 months, while Boertje-Obed and Walli were sentenced to 62 months each.
Earlier this year, from inside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Rice set out to draw attention to conditions inside U.S. corrections facilities.
Following the news of the activists' release, Boertje-Obed's wife, Michele Naar-Obed, said in a phone interview with the AP that she hopes her husband is out of prison by Monday, which will be his 60th birthday.