LONDON – Greta Thunberg said on Thursday people should remember who “the real enemy is” after she and four other environmental activists appeared in court charged with a public order offence at a protest outside an oil and gas conference.
Ms. Thunberg, who became a prominent campaigner worldwide after staging weekly protests in front of the Swedish parliament in 2018, spoke after the first day of the hearing at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
All five defendants, who are aged between 19 and 59 and have pleaded not guilty, are accused of failing to comply with an order by senior police officers to move their protest to a designated area near the conference last year.
If convicted, they would face a maximum fine of 2,500 pounds ($3,160) each.
Ms. Thunberg, 21, spoke outside court alongside two other defendants after the end of proceedings on Thursday.
“Even though we are the ones standing here and climate, environmental and human rights activists all over the world are being prosecuted, sometimes convicted and given legal penalties for acting in line with science, we must remember who the real enemy is,” Ms. Thunberg said.
“What are we defending? Who are our laws meant to protect?”
Ms. Thunberg was arrested on Oct. 17 while protesting outside a hotel where the Energy Intelligence Forum was hosting oil and gas industry leaders.
Prosecutor Luke Staton said that Ms. Thunberg was told by police that she needed to leave or would be arrested and was given a “final warning”.
“She said that she was staying where she was and so she was arrested,” the prosecutor added.
Ms. Thunberg sat in the well of the court and wrote in a notebook throughout the hearing. Video of her arrest was played to the court, in which protesters chanted “oily money out”.
A smiling Ms. Thunberg earlier made her way through photographers and police officers to chants of “climate protest is not a crime” by environmental activists outside the court.
The trial is being conducted by a judge without a jury and is expected to conclude on Friday, when Ms. Thunberg is expected to give evidence. – Reuters