Published: Less than 30 min ago
Updated: Just now
Policemen in riot gear stood next to a laughing Greta Thunberg before lifting her away from the coal mine.
The photos have prompted several newspapers and Twitter users to question whether it was all rigged.
Now the police in Germany are responding to the rumours.
Thousands of protesters have besieged the coal mine in the German village of Lützerath in recent days.
The local police authority stated this weekend that around 70 policemen were injured in clashes with the activists. Organizers, for their part, said about 20 protesters were taken to hospital after being beaten.
Swedish Greta Thunberg, 20, has been on site in Lützerath. On Sunday, she was taken away by the police from the mining area for the first time.
On Tuesday, the same thing happened again – and it is the images from that occasion that have now sparked discussion in social media.
Laughter between the officers
Greta Thunberg is seen with two police officers in riot gear at her side. One is holding her arm while she laughs in front of the press photographers. In other pictures, she is seen smiling as she is carried away by the policemen.
Several tweeters with conservative political domicile claim that everything was staged, writes Newsweek. The theory is also carried forward by British Daily Mail.
“Was it all for the cameras?” asked the newspaper in a large front-page headline on Wednesday evening.
Even the German Bild had a similar headline in its article.
The police finally felt compelled to respond to the rumours.
– It was not rigged. The cops definitely weren’t posing there. They completed a mission and as part of that they needed to wait, says Christof Hüls, spokesperson for the police in Aachen, to Image.
The newspaper’s reporter Michael Engelberg was there and gives the following description of the process:
– Greta Thunberg was one of several protesters who were surrounded by the police when they were on their way to the edge of the coal mine, he says in the article.
– They sat together on the ground and sang. Shortly thereafter, police said anyone who wanted to could leave the group without being identified. After three statements, the police began to remove them.
“Went away – and back”
Michael Engelberg says that the Swede was then taken away from the other demonstrators by the police. She was taken to an area with police cars, but it was already full of other activists.
Then Greta Thunberg was brought back to the mining area and the photos were taken by the photographers present, the reporter states.
– They stayed there for a couple of minutes, with another activist to her left. They didn’t really know what to do, where she would go. Then they came to an agreement because shortly before that the police had brought in a small tourist bus. They went there with her under escort.
Christian Wernicke, a journalist at the German Süddeutsche Zeitung, gives a similar description:
– The police considered how to proceed with the identity check and waited to take Greta to a police vehicle. My impression was that there was confusion. Greta was not the first protester to be taken away, he tells the BBC.
The police: “The reason is practical”
A spokesperson for the local police confirmed that account to the broadcaster:
– It had to wait a few minutes before they could take her to a special police vehicle. The whole situation has been exploited by those with political motives. The real reason was entirely practical and worldly.
Greta Thunberg was released after being driven away from the scene. She was never formally arrested and is not suspected of a crime, according to the police.
In a tweet on Wednesday, she gave her own description of what happened.
“Yesterday I was part of a group that peacefully demonstrated against the expansion of a coal mine in Germany. We were surrounded by the police and then detained, but released later in the evening. Protecting the climate is not a crime.”