Climate activists detained at Spain museum released from custody

Climate protesters from Extinction Rebellion stick themselves to Goya's "Las Majas" paintings to alert about the climate emergency in Madrid

By David Latona and Miguel Gutierrez

MADRID (Reuters) -Four people detained after two climate activists glued their hands to the frames of two iconic paintings by Francisco de Goya at Madrid's Prado Museum to protest global warming have been released from custody, a Spanish court said on Monday.

One of the activists, Samuel Gomez, 18, apologised to art lovers but said he felt "fear and panic every day I realise I'm not going to have a future."

"It's our duty as citizens to act resorting to civil disobedience despite it being a quite horrible process, personally. But I believe it's necessary because we are fighting for our lives and need to act now."

The four, who were arrested on Saturday after the protest action, remain under investigation for alleged crimes against the "artistic-historical patrimony." Those who cause damage to property of historic or artistic value in Spain can be sentenced to imprisonment of at least six months or a fine.

The two other people detained were a reporter and a photojournalist working for news portal El Salto who were covering the protest, according to a story published by the outlet.

Footage of the incident showed a young man and a woman attaching themselves to Goya's "La Maja Vestida" (The Clothed Maja) and his "La Maja Desnuda" (The Naked Maja), and painting "+1.5 C" on the wall between the two works.

The two activists, Alba del Rio, 21, and Gomez told Reuters following their release that they had no intention of damaging the artworks and only wanted to send a message about the danger of rising global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions, intensive animal farming and deforestation.

"We are overwhelmed by the many hours we spent in the detention cell," Gomez said, but added they were happy with the widespread media coverage their protest had garnered.

Groups of climate activists have mounted a series of similar demonstrations around famous works of art at several European museums in recent weeks in the build-up to the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt.

The Prado said its paintings, created at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, had not been damaged, but their frames faced slight damages. The graffiti on the wall was quickly painted over.

(Reporting by David Latona, Miguel Gutiérrez and Guillermo Martínez; Editing by Inti Landauro, Bernadette Baum and Aurora Ellis)