New York Times 15. Nov. 1978

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19 in Minnesota Freed In Power Line Dispute

BUFFALO, Minn., Nov. 14 (AP) - Nineteen persons were found not guilty of charges of trespassing at a utility property yesterday in a case that became a cause celebre in the human rights dispute between the Soviet Union and the United States. The jury of three men and three women returned the verdicts after six hours of deliberation.

Kenneth Tilsen, a defense attorney, said, "The jury obviously decided that power line property is not private property and that people have a right to express themselves on important social issues."

The 19 opponents of the 427-mile power line were arrested and charged with trespassing on Oct. 29 at a substation in Delano. One of those charged was Dean Reed, a folk singer whose songs have become popular in the Soviet Union. The Soviet press agency Tass covered the trial, and said Mr. Reed's only offense was his "active struggle" for political prisoners in the United States.

Mr. Reed and 11 of the demonstraters refused to post $300 bail after they were arrested and staged a hunger strike. They were released last week when their trial began.

The rally that led to the arrests was another protest in a three-year-long history of protests and vandalism anlong the power line, which was finished in September and will begin carrying electricity next spring. The line is being built by two power cooperatives for rural electric cooperatives. Farmers say their property rights are being violated.

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