Dutch men who wanted Area 51 video get jail for trespass

Dutch tourists Ties Granzier (left) and Govert Sweep in Nye County Jail.
Dutch tourists Ties Granzier (left) and Govert Sweep in Nye County Jail.PHOTO: AP

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Two Dutch tourists who told authorities they wanted to take video of Area 51 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespass and illegal parking following their arrests at a different secure US government site in Nevada.

A judge on Monday sentenced Govert Sweep, 21, and Ties Granzier, 20, to 10 days in county jail, but said they can be released in three days if they pay fines of US$2,280 (S$3,100) apiece.

The men also surrendered computer and camera equipment and an aerial drone that their attorneys, Adam Solinger and Michael Becker in Las Vegas, valued at about US$10,000.

"This is all about deterrence because of 'Storm Area 51'," Solinger said on Tuesday (Sept 17) of the sentences.

His clients had planned to post video on the Internet ahead of events this week stemming from an Internet hoax inviting people to a remote once-secret US Air Force test site more than 32.2km from where Sweep and Granzier were arrested.

An unknown number of people are expected at events now planned in the tiny Nevada desert towns of Rachel and Hiko, and the originator of the Internet hoax plans to host an event in downtown Las Vegas.

Nye County prosecutor Chris Arabia said Sweep and Granzier could face a more serious conspiracy charge if they are found again at the Nevada National Security Site - a vast posted and patrolled area about 145km north-west of Las Vegas where the government conducted nuclear weapons tests from 1945 to 1992.

The two were arrested Sept 10 in a car inside a site gate near Mercury.

The security site covers an area almost the size of the US state of Rhode Island. It is separate but adjacent to the Nevada Test and Training Range, an area almost twice the size of Delaware where the Air Force conducts training in aerial combat and bombing and tests stealth aircraft. Access to Area 51 is prohibited.

In a Nye County sheriff's office video news release , Sweep and Granzier say they will return to the Netherlands after their expected release on Thursday.

"We didn't want to cause any trouble," Granzier said.

"It has all gone a little out of hand."