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Greta Thunberg fined for disobeying police at protest

Published July 24, 2023last updated July 24, 2023

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was cited for refusing to clear a protest in Malmo last month. She said she had acted out of necessity to fight the climate crisis.

Greta Thunberg photographed while sitting on the ground between two Swedish police officers
Greta Thunberg regularly lambasts governments and politicians for not properly addressing climate issuesImage: Johan Nilsson/AP/TT News Agency/dpa/picture alliance

A Swedish court on Monday fined climate activist Greta Thunberg for disobeying police at a protest last month.

Thunberg and other activists were detained for disrupting traffic in the oil terminal port in Malmo to protest against fossil fuel use. They blocked the entrance and the exit of the southern Swedish city's harbor. 

According to the charge sheet filed against Thunberg, she "took part in a demonstration that disrupted traffic" and "refused to obey police orders to leave the site."

Thunberg on Monday admitted disobeying the police but argued that she had acted out of necessity, citing the need to fight climate change. 

"It's correct that I was at that place on that day, and it's correct that I received an order that I didn't listen to, but I want to deny the crime," Thunberg said in court, according to the AFP news agency.

"My actions are justifiable," she was quoted as saying. "I believe that we are in an emergency that threatens life, health and property. Countless people and communities are at risk both in the short term and in the long term."

Court hands Greta Thunberg a fine

The court ordered Thunberg to pay a fine of 1,500 Swedish kronor ($144; €130).

Charges for disobeying police can carry sentences of up to six months in jail, but Prosecutor Charlotte Ottosen had earlier told Swedish media most end in fines.

Just hours after being fined, Thunberg helped stage a similar protest in the same city, Reuters reported.

"Ta tillbaka framtiden," which means Reclaim the Future, is the environmental activist group that organized the rally, which lasted for several days.

"If the court chooses to see our action as a crime it may do so, but we know we have the right to live and the fossil fuels industry stands in the way of that," the group's spokesperson, Irma Kjellstrom, told AFP before Monday's court session. 

Thunberg has been the face of the youth climate movement since inspiring the Friday's For Future protests, which grew out of her first solo School Strikes events at the Swedish Parliament.

She has spoken frankly about the urgency of the climate crisis to activists and government and business leaders ever since.

In March, she harangued those leaders for their "unprecedented betrayal," after the publication of the UN's IPCC climate advisory panel annual report.

ara/fb (AFP, AP)