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Trial underway for pipeline tampering case in northeast ND

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CAVALIER -- A trial is underway for two environmental activists accused of shutting down a pipeline that runs through Pembina County.

Jury selection in the trial of Michael Eric Foster of Seattle and Samuel L. Jessup of Burlington, Vt., started Monday and wrapped up Tuesday. The two men were charged Oct. 13 in Pembina County District Court with multiple crimes after law enforcement said the pair interfered with emergency valves on the TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline near Walhalla.

The incident occurred during protests on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Jessup and Foster were a part of Climate Direct Action, a group that said it was standing with the Dakota Access opponents. Members of Climate Direct Action were accused of tampering with Keystone and other pipelines that carry oil from Canada, according to Herald archives. TransCanada claims restarting the pipeline cost about $50,000, according to court documents.

Jessup is on trial for conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, a Class B felony, and a misdemeanor criminal conspiracy charge. Two other charges were dismissed.

Foster faces the same Class B felony charge as Jessup, as well as a Class B felony count of criminal mischief and two misdemeanor charges -- reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. Four other charges have been dismissed.

The trial is scheduled to run through Friday.

The case against Deia Schlosberg, a Montana documentary filmmaker who was arrested with Jessup and Foster, appears to have been suspended.


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