Former Clash bassist Paul Simonon has revealed that he spent two weeks in a Greenlandic jail earlier this year after he was arrested while working as an undercover activist with Greenpeace.
Simonon, who now plays with Damon Albarn’s band The Good, the Bad and the Queen, worked as a cook on-board the Esperanza ship and was detained alongside 17 other campaigners in June when they stormed the Leiv Eiriksson oil rig off the coast of Greenland.
The group scaled the platform from speedboats and asked to see the owner’s emergency plans in the event of an oil spill in the Arctic region.”It’s obvious why Cairn [the rig’s owner] won’t tell the world how it would clean up a BP-style oil spill here in the Arctic, and that’s because it can’t be done,” campaigner Ben Ayliffe said at the time.
Speaking to NME music magazine, Simonon said, “We stormed the oil rig. They said if you don’t get off … we’re going to phone the authorities in Greenland and say you’ve hijacked the oil rig, and the police will come and arrest you. And that’s pretty much what happened.”
Simonon was only allowed to join the Greenpeace mission after promising to pose as part of the ship’s crew. Fellow activist Martti Leinonen described “Paul the assistant cook” as a “quiet, humble and funny guy”, adding that he even kept his identity secret while behind bars.
“The food was so bad, we finally got the guards to agree to let Paul cook,” Leinonen said. “He makes excellent vegetarian food.”