Judge Acquits Greta Thunberg

Climate activist was accused of blocking access to London hotel during Energy Intelligence Forum
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 1, 2024 11:54 AM CST
Updated Feb 3, 2024 12:40 PM CST
Greta Thunberg Goes On Trial
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg is surrounded by media as she arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. The 20-year-old Climate activist from Sweden is on trial after she was arrested during a demonstration on October 17, 2023.   (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
UPDATE Feb 3, 2024 12:40 PM CST

To the applause of the gallery, a London judge cleared Greta Thunberg on Friday of a charge of refusing a police order in connection with a protest last year. Judge John Law cited "significant deficiencies in the evidence" against the climate activist and four co-defendants, the AP reports. The police order to disperse was "so unclear that it was unlawful," Law said, so those who did not comply with it did not break any law. The government was ordered to pay Thunberg's legal fees and travel expenses. Thunberg made no public comment, but her lawyer said afterward that "the government should stop prosecuting peaceful protesters, and instead find ways to tackle the climate crisis."

Feb 1, 2024 11:54 AM CST

Climate activist Greta Thunberg went on trial Thursday for refusing to leave a protest that blocked the entrance to a major oil and gas industry conference in London last year, per the AP. Thunberg, 21, was among more than two dozen protesters arrested on Oct. 17 after preventing access to a hotel during the Energy Intelligence Forum, attended by some of the industry's top executives. The Swedish environmental activist and four other protesters face a two-day trial in Westminster Magistrates' Court on a charge of breaching a section of the Public Order Act that allows police to impose limits on public assemblies. She and four Fossil Free London protesters have pleaded not guilty.

Thunberg and other climate protesters have accused fossil fuel companies of deliberately slowing the global energy transition to renewables in order to make more profit. They also oppose the UK government's recent approval of drilling for oil in the North Sea, off the coast of Scotland. Thunberg sat in court in a black T-shirt and black pants, taking notes as a police officer testified about efforts to disperse demonstrators who had blocked several exits and entrances for hours outside the luxury InterContinental Hotel in central London. "It seemed like a very deliberate attempt ... to prevent access to the hotel for most delegates and the guests," Superintendent Matthew Cox said. "People were really restricted from having access to the hotel."

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Cox said protesters were lighting colorful flares and drummers were creating a deafening din outside the hotel as some demonstrators sat down on the ground. When officers began making arrests, other protesters quickly took their place, leading to a "perpetual cycle" that found police running out of officers to make arrests. The protest had gone on for about five hours when Thunberg, outside the front entrance, was warned that she was going to be arrested. She was arrested after saying she planned to stay where she was. Last summer, she was fined by a Swedish court for disobeying police and blocking traffic during an environmental protest at an oil facility. She had already been fined for the same offense previously in Sweden. (More Greta Thunberg stories.)

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