Did Danish authorities really hold our activists in prison for 20 days because they were diligently investigating how they got onto a red carpet at a state dinner during the Copenhagen climate conference? New evidence suggests not.
To non-violently paraphrase Michael Corleone, "If history teaches us anything, it's that you can get past security anywhere." But here's a fact: it really, really, pisses them off.
And that, it would appear, is the real reason that our Red Carpet Four activists were held without a trial in Denmark. Let's be clear: they had a message to deliver. It wasn't their intent to make monkeys of a security force that was set up to protect the 120 most powerful people on the planet, along with the Queen of Denmark. But yes, they did that when, with a few smart-looking cars in a "motorcade" marked with the Greenpeace logo, a Tuxedo, an off-the-rack evening dress and a flashing blue light bought on the internet, they managed to get into the Parliament and deploy, in full view of the world's leaders and the gathered press, banners demanding action on climate change.
Now the REASON the police claimed they needed to hold our activists, without visitation rights, for 20 days over Christmas and New Year's, without trial, was that they were "investigating" the incident.
We offered to help early on. We provided full details and an open invitation to the police to ask us anything. Clearly, security could be better, and we don't mind letting them know how they can improve it -- we're non-violent, but not everyone with an interest in getting to world leaders can make the same claim.
Yet we weren't asked a single question until a couple days ago, when police asked for the names of those who were in the three cars in our "Motorcade." (The individuals voluntarily came forward).
When we (and a judge) were told that the activists needed to be held until the ongoing investigation was complete, we presumed that meant there was an ongoing investigation. Surely the activists themselves were under daily interrogation behind bars.
But no. Nora, Juantxo, Christian, and Joris have just told us they were interviewed only twice: on their arrest and for 15 minutes a few days ago. The cars which were impounded were not even fingerprinted immediately; one car was returned with fingerprint powder on the 30th of December, another car was fingerprinted today, and the police have not started on the third.
One activist, Joris Thijssen, was not arrested on the red carpet, but picked up at a restaurant by police acting, we're told, on information that Joris was an organiser of the action. What made them think that? It's because they tapped his and two other Greenpeace phones. (Danish media are reporting that 15 other Greenpeace phones were tapped on the day of the action, and police lawyers were not even consulted on those.)
But what exactly did they do with all that information? If the phone taps had told them everything they needed to know, they would presumably have stopped the action. If the phone taps didn't tell them everything they needed to know, why did they not ask Joris, who would have been happy to tell them? And if they weren't going to ask him anything useful, then why on Earth did they put him behind bars for 20 days claiming he was being held while the investigation continued? (Asked on release if he would have done anything differently as a result of his prison experience, Joris replied "I would have brought a book.")
Even more amazing, Danish newspaper Nyheder reports that the police's own lawyers had recommended the immediate release of the four - a recommendation which the Chief of Police chose to ignore.
Greenpeace International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, said on their release that "When the history of climate change is written, the criminals will be exposed, and these four people are not the criminals."
Our legal systems should not treat those who choose peaceful acts of civil disobedience over inaction as if they are terrorists or criminals. They are neither. They are the voices of society's conscience. The longer the world defers delivering a fair, ambitious, legally binding treaty to stop global warming, the louder those voices will grow. (You can add yours here.)
There are not enough prisons in the world to hold us all.
It's time to stop jailing us, and listen.