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The Guardian/UK

Greenpeace Arctic Oil Protest Ended by Danish Navy

Commandos end occupation of drilling rig on exploration vessel by breaking into activists' survival pod hanging off platform

Severin Carrell

Danish navy commandos remove Greenpeace activists from the Arctic drilling rig Leiv Eiriksson. (Photograph: Greenpeace/Reuters)

Danish navy commandos have ended the occupation of an Arctic drilling rig by Greenpeace by breaking into the protesters' survival pod hanging off the drilling platform.

The navy unit broke into the pod just before midnight, four days after the two activists began their occupation of the drilling platform of Leiv Eiriksson, an oil exploration vessel operated by the British firm Cairn Energy.

The arrests of Luke Jones, from Leeds, and Hannah McHardy, from the US, end a 10-day long action by Greenpeace and its protest ship Esperanza against Cairn's drilling operations off Greenland. The activists are now being held and are likely to be deported.

Last year, four Greenpeace protesters occupied another Cairn rig in the same area for about 30 hours after attaching a climbing platform under the structure. That protest was brought to an end by severe weather.

Ben Ayliffe, a Greenpeace International campaigner on board the Esperanza, said: "Our team stopped this rig from drilling for four days, which was four days in which a Deepwater Horizon-style blowout couldn't happen and this beautiful fragile environment was safe.

"Our climbers are in jail now, but this won't stop us opposing the madness of drilling for oil in a region where a spill would be almost impossible to clean up. This isn't over. We'll keep on pushing till the oil companies get out of the Arctic."

Cairn denies that its drilling operation was affected by the occupation. It and Greenland's government insist that its oil spill emergency plan is detailed and comprehensive, and argue that oil wells have been sited in the Arctic for several decades.

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