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Greenpeace officials denied entry on national interest

April 2, 2012 - 21:40 By Korea Herald
Greenpeace East Asia executive director Mario Damato and another employee were denied entry into the country on Monday.

Mario Damato was accompanying Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo into the country on Monday when they were denied entry at Incheon International Airport at roughly 2 p.m. on Monday.

Naidoo was allowed entry.

According to a Korea Immigration Service officer, they received a request to deny entry to Greenpeace officials from a government branch. The officer, on the condition of anonymity, refused to disclose which branch it was.

The officer added that the government branch had filed the request on the basis of “national interest.”

Greenpeace stated in a press release that they believe this was an attempt by the Korean government to stop the organization from voicing its opinion against the expansion of nuclear energy.

The executive directors were planning to visit the country ahead of one of its ships, the Esperanza, on its tour to promote the use of renewable energy and discourage South Korea from continuing its nuclear program.

As scheduled Naidoo met with Seoul City Mayor to discuss their denunciation of nuclear energy, and also seek cooperation terms between the capital and the environmental group.

Naidoo is also scheduled to meet with Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil.

“This incident shows us that democracy and nuclear energy cannot coexist,” said Naidoo in a press release.

According to a Facebook post by Fung Ka Keung, he and two other Greenpeace colleagues awaited deportation back to Hong Kong in the airport’s detention center.

By Robert Lee (