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NATO security zone upheld

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A federal judge has ruled against a group of peace activists who argued that a massive security zone created by Colorado Springs officials to protect NATO delegates at The Broadmoor hotel two years ago trampled on their right to assemble.

In an 11-page, July 25 ruling, Judge Richard Matsch stated he was swayed by the concerns of city police and military officers who had testified in an earlier trial that they feared the presence of activists could make the hotel more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

"Under the circumstances of this case, the city's refusal to allow any demonstrators entry into the security zone was reasonable," Matsch wrote.

Six activists with Citizens for Peace in Space filed the suit with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.

"I'm stunned," Bill Sulzman, a member of the group, said after the ruling.

The activists sought permission to assemble in a toned-down fashion inside the buffer zone during the October 2003 conference. They said it was the only way to be seen by members of the international media, who were whisked past a checkpoint in security vehicles.

Sulzman says Matsch's decision appears to give officials the green light to use security concerns as a reason to discriminate against people who seek to peacefully disagree with government policies.

The ACLU is reviewing the ruling to determine whether to file an appeal.

-- Michael de Yoanna

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