LUETZERATH, Germany, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg was detained along with other activists on Tuesday during a protest against the demolition of the coal village of Luetzerath, but the entire group will be released later in the day, police said.
“There is no reason to keep them for days. It can take hours or they will leave immediately,” said a spokesman for the regional police in Aachen, referring to the entire group of demonstrators.
Thunberg was held while protesting in the open-pit coal mine of Garzweiler 2, 9 km (5.6 miles) from Luetzerath.
The demolition of the village in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia was agreed in a deal between RWE and the government, which allowed the energy company Lutzerath to demolish it in exchange for a quick exit from coal and saving five villages first.
Activists have said Germany should no longer mine lignite and instead focus on expanding renewable energy.
Riot police, backed by bulldozers, cleared activists from buildings in the village along with some trees and an underground tunnel last weekend, but protesters including Thunberg staged a sit-in on Tuesday.
Thunberg was seen sitting alone in a large police bus after being taken into custody, a Reuters witness said.
“We’re going to use force to take you for an ID check, so please cooperate,” a policeman told the group, according to Reuters footage.
“Greta Thunberg was part of a group of activists who rushed to the ledge. However, she was stopped and taken away by us with this group from the immediate danger area to establish their identity,” a spokesman for the Aachen police told Reuters. An activist jumped into the mine.
Thunberg was escorted by three policemen and held by one arm at a point not far from the edge of the mine, where he had previously sat with the group.
She was then led back to the police vans.
The Swedish climate activist addressed around 6,000 protesters marching towards Lutserath on Saturday, calling the mine’s expansion “a betrayal of present and future generations”.
“Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world and must be held accountable,” he said.
Reporting by Wolfgang Rutte and Riham Algousa, Writing by Victoria Waltersee; Editing: Maria Sheehan, William McLean
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