Greenpeace Climate Heroes imprisoned over Christmas and New Year

Press release - 23 December, 2009
Four Greenpeace climate activists will spend Christmas and New Year in Copenhagen prison after the High Court there this afternoon rejected appeals to release them from Danish police custody. The four Climate Heroes from the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland were arrested following a protest staged during last Thursday's State Banquet hosted by Queen Margrethe II for world leaders attending the Copenhagen climate summit.

Greenpeace condemned the High Court's decision as a further 'climate injustice' on top of world leaders' failure to agree a legally binding treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The organisation is calling on the public to help step up pressure to secure the release of its four activists, as well as other peaceful climate protesters still being held in custody. Despite today's Court ruling, the release of Greenpeace's Climate Heroes remains at the discretion of Denmark's Chief of Police.

"Greenpeace's Climate Heroes were willing to risk their freedom for a cause," said Mads Christensen, Executive Director, Greenpeace Nordic. "We have continually assured the Danish authorities that, like any Greenpeace activist, the four are willing to return to Denmark for their day in court, but the police intend to hold them in custody until 7 January 2010. Preventing them from spending the festive season with their families and loved ones is effectively a punishment without trial and has the appearance of a vindictive act. It is unnecessary and totally out of proportion to what they did. We hope people everywhere will join the call for their release and also make their own, smaller, efforts to act against climate change."

Posing as a 'Head of State', his 'wife' and a security detail, three of the activists were waved through the security cordon around last Thursday's dinner for Heads of State, immediately prior to the crucial final day of the Copenhagen climate summit. They delivered a message to leaders about the urgent need to act to protect the world's climate. The 'Head of State' and his 'wife' unfurled banners reading, "Politicians Talk, Leaders Act". A fourth activist was later arrested.

Leaders failed to heed Greenpeace's call. The summit ended in failure by agreeing only to note the 'Copenhagen Accord', an empty document containing no legally binding commitments for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to close the police investigation into its four activists, Greenpeace has been co-operating with Danish police and has provided police with full details of the activity. For security reasons, the full details will not be made public.

Even so, Greenpeace outlined that the protest was not a sophisticated operation. It relied entirely on simple, readily-available materials and had elements of farce. For instance, Greenpeace logos displayed on the windscreens of limousines hired by Greenpeace to arrive at the banquet were in one case wedged in place by a pair of socks. One of the car number plates included '007' - a reference to James Bond. Blue 'police' lights on top of another vehicle were purchased for DKK 50 (Euro 6.70) via the internet.

Reflecting on the failed summit, Mads Christensen said, "Over the past 20 years, our leaders have done virtually nothing to combat climate change. The Copenhagen climate summit was the moment for decisive action. But our leaders failed us. They failed to agree a legally binding treaty to prevent the Earth from warming beyond the crucial threshold of 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Beyond this, we can expect impacts to severely affect the survival and well-being of millions of people and countless species. Failure to take action to protect the climate is not an option. The four Climate Heroes provide an inspiration to everyone."

Other contacts: Mads Christensen, Executive Director, Greenpeace Nordic
Tel: +45 28 10 90 22

Sune Scheller, Press Officer, Greenpeace Nordic
Tel: +45 27 14 42 57

Greenpeace International Press Desk: +31 20 7182470

Video available:
On-call number: +31 6 4619 7322
A five-minute mini documentary "The Story of the Red Carpet Four" is available with behind the scenes shots and interviews (in English) with three of the activists.

(Note: an interview, in Spanish, with Juan A Lopez de Uralde is available separately. Call: +31 6 4619 7322)

Photos available:
John Novis, Greenpeace International Photo Desk
Tel: +44 7801 615 889

Notes: The four activists are:

Juan A Lopez de Uralde, (Spanish), Executive Director, Greenpeace Spain
Nora Christiansen, (Norwegian), resident in Denmark
Christian Schmutz, (Swiss), Greenpeace Switzerland
Joris Thijssen, (Dutch), Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace International