Climate activists face 12 years in jail

    Danish police arrest a climate activist outside the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen last year

    In the backwards world of anti-terrorism laws, two climate activists are facing significant jail time in Denmark for their roles in organizing protests against the United Nations Copenhagen climate summit in December. According to a press release by the Mobilization for Climate Justice:

    Natasha Verco, an Australian honours student, and Noah Weiss, an American citizen who lives in Denmark, will face similar charges in a trial which is due to last all week.

    Verco, who has organised non-violent direct action in her native country and who has been part of the Climate Justice Action (CJA) network in the lead-up to the summit in Copenhagen, has been charged with organising violence, organising public disorder, significant damage to property, and organising disorder during the international talks on climate change which took place in Copenhagen last year. If found guilty, Verco faces a maximum of twelve and a half years in prison.

    Speaking a day ahead of the start of the trial, Verco recalled her arrest: “On December 13 I was riding my bike down by the Copenhagen lakes,and a plainclothes police woman jumped out at me and pushed me off the bike. She took me to an unmarked police van with six or seven plainclothes policemen. I asked them ‘Are you randomly picking me up?’ and they said ‘No, we hunted you’. They held me by myself in an underground carpark for about 16 hours, I think. Then I was taken to Vester prison and held there for three weeks and two days. I was charged the day after I got to prison, but bail was refused because, they said, the investigation was ongoing and I would influence it if I was released.”

    Verco and Weiss say they both had their phones tapped, along with 17 other activists, which is legal under recently introduced terror legislation in Denmark. Verco said: “I feel nervous and indignant at the same time, I wonder what the hell they’re going to argue because I can’t see what evidence they’ve got for these charges. And looking back at the calls that they’ve taped, it feels very invasive. Under the new terror laws they can do this, but it seems to me that applying terror laws to activists is steadily eroding the base of our democracy.”

    Verco was heavily involved in organising the day of action on December 14, but was arrested before it happened. When it took place, she was still being held by police. “The police say that they prevented anything happening by taking me in. There was no violence, and no disruption of the public infrastructure, because they’d arrested me.”

    MCJ is asking folks to send a message to the Danish justice and foreign ministries to support the two.



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