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Greenpeace activists arrested on Arctic oil rig: police
by Staff Writers
Copenhagen (AFP) June 2, 2011

Two Greenpeace activists who scaled an oil rig off Greenland at the weekend to protest oil prospecting in the Arctic were arrested overnight, police and the environmental group said Thursday.

"Last night, the police decided the time was right, and we arrested the two activists," Greenland deputy police chief Morten Nielsen told AFP.

"They are being transported to (Greenland capital) Nuuk, and it will be determined whether they they will go before a judge," he added.

Greenpeace also said the two 25-year-old activists, Luke Jones of Britain and Hannah Mchardy of the United States, had been arrested after hanging in a "survival pod" beneath the 53,00-tonne "Leiv Eiriksson" platform for four days.

"Our climbers are in jail now, but this won't stop us opposing the madness of drilling for oil that we can't afford to burn and in a region where a spill would be almost impossible to clean up," Greenpeace international oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe said in a statement.

The two activists arrived by rubber dinghy early Sunday at the 53,000-tonne platform, which is due to begin drilling for oil 180 kilometres (110 miles) off the western coast of Greenland for Scottish company Cairn Energy.

Greenpeace said the position of the pod prevented the rig from drilling, but Cairn told AFP that it hadn't as drilling was not scheduled to begin.

Deputy police chief Nielsen said the operation was run by local police in Greenland, which is a semi-autonomous Danish territory, but that the Danish navy had been on sight in case rescue efforts were needed.

Shortly before midnight (0000 GMT Thursday) "a climb team operating from the rig broke into the pod," Greenpeace said, adding "Danish navy inflatable speedboats were positioned below the climbers."

Cairn meanwhile said in a statement that it was seeking a court injunction in the Netherlands against Greenpeace and the owners of its ships the MS Esperanza and the MS Arctic Sunrise.

"Cairn is requesting an order from the court requiring Greenpeace and the vessel owners to refrain from future disruption of Cairn's lawful operations offshore Greenland," said the statement.

Greenpeace's Ayliff described the company's move as "trying to us a legal hammer to shut down our campaign to kick the oil companies out of the Arctic."

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