False: Greta Thunberg's arrest in Germany was staged.

By: Gayathri Loka
January 20 2023

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False: Greta Thunberg's arrest in Germany was staged.


The Verdict False

Police officials confirmed to Logically that Thunberg was detained and the incident was not staged.

Claim ID 4160be59


Climate activists were protesting against the expansion of a large coal mine in Lützerath village in western Germany earlier this month when it was reported that the police were removing activists from the site. One of the activists was Greta Thunberg; pictures of her being carried by police were shared worldwide.

Since then, social media posts have claimed that Thunberg's arrest was staged. Social media influencer Ian Miles tweeted on January 18, "Yes, the Greta Thunberg arrest was staged for the establishment media." The tweet also has a video of the police holding Thunberg’s arm while the media took pictures. In the video, Greta is seen standing with the police and smiling while photos are being taken. The tweet was retweeted more than 12,000 times and had over 35,000 likes. 

In Fact

Lützerath is about two kilometres from the city of Aachen, and police from Aachen were the ones to reach the spot of the protest and detain activists. Logically reached out to Aachen police, who said that the claim was false and that Thunberg was not arrested but detained. "The entire group of people, including Thunberg, had to give their personal details to the police; they were not under arrest. We would never make such recordings. We are not the extras for the staging of Thunberg," a police spokesperson told Logically. "During the mission, there was very isolated criticism that press work was restricted, and now the posed photos are being discussed? We always said that it is important for the police to enable reporting and guarantee the protection of media workers in critical situations. Both were given, and that's why journalists were able to do their work," the spokesperson added. 

The interior ministry of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia told the BBC that police officers and Thunberg were waiting for logistical reasons. BBC reported that officers also confirmed that all those detained would not be charged. 

The Aachen police told Reuters that Thunberg was a part of a group of activists who ran towards a ledge. She was stopped and carried away with the group to establish their identity. Reuters reported that Thunberg was carried away by three police officers and held by one arm at a spot away from the edge of the mine and was then escorted back to the police vans. She was later released. 

On January 18, Thunberg tweeted, "Yesterday I was part of a group that peacefully protested the expansion of a coal mine in Germany. We were kettled by police and then detained but were let go later that evening." 

Reuters reported that the village was being cleared to allow for the expansion of a coal mine, triggering protests by residents. The mine's owner, RWE, an electricity generation company, is carrying on a lignite-mining operation in Lützerath. Though it was largely abandoned, environmental activists occupied the village, hoping to stop the mine's expansion, DW reported. These protesters, including Thunberg, were removed from the spot by the police. 

The Verdict 

Thunberg was not arrested but detained by the German police. Police officials confirmed to Logically that the detention was not staged. Therefore, we mark this claim as false.

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