A British court on Friday dismissed charges against Greta Thunberg and four co-defendants, after finding “significant deficiencies in the evidence” brought by by the prosecution.
In October, the 21-year-old Swedish climate activist was arrested for disobeying police while protesting outside an oil and gas conference in London. Fellow activists Christofer Kebbon, Joshua James Unwin, Jeff Rice and Peter Barker were arrested alongside her.
While a responding officer claimed the group had illegally blocked access to the forum, District Judge John Law found the police orders to disperse were “so unclear that it was unlawful.”
Law also highlighted a general lack of evidence that the “peaceful, civilized and nonviolent” protest was all that disruptive.
Greta Thunberg laughs as she and fellow defendants and supporters return to Westminster Magistrates Court in London on February 2, 2024. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
“It is quite striking to me that there were no witness statements taken from anyone in the hotel, approximately 1,000 people, or from anyone trying to get in,” Law explained.
“There was no evidence of any vehicles being impeded, no evidence of any interference with emergency services or any risk to life.”
In addition to acquitting the group, Law ordered the state to reimburse Thunberg’s travel costs and cover the fees of defense lawyer Raj Chada.
Chada celebrated the ruling in remarks made outside the court.
“The conditions imposed on the protest were unclear, uncertain and unlawful,” Chada said. “The government should stop prosecuting peaceful protesters, and instead find ways to tackle the climate crisis.”
After the U.K. government green-lit drilling for oil in the North Sea, climate protests — and arrests — have stepped up. A tally by The Guardian counted at least 630 arrests of peaceful oil and gas protesters in December alone.