January 23, 2023

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg made headlines this week when she was detained while protesting against a coal mining operation in Lutzerath, Germany. But some people claim the moment was staged.

“Greta literally staged being arrested for the cameras,” read one description of a video shared on Facebook that showed Thunberg, 20, standing between two officers who held her arms and led her away.

“The world is a stage enjoy the show,” read the description of another similar video. A Jan. 17 Instagram post sharing it said, “Greta Thunberg pretends to get arrested at a coal mine in Germany.”

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Claudia Suthor, a spokesperson for the Aachen police in Germany, told PolitiFact that Thunberg, among other protesters detained, was not arrested but required to give her information to officers before she was released.

Suthor said the event was not orchestrated: “We are not the extras for the staging of Greta Thunberg.”

Christian Wernicke, a journalist who was reporting on the protest for German news outlet Süddeutsche Zeitung, told the BBC that Thunberg wasn’t the first protester police detained, and that the video shows officers “deciding how they would proceed with the identity check and waiting to take Greta to the police vehicle.”

We rate claims that Thunberg staged her arrest in Germany False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
Ciara O'Rourke

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