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Actress Lucy Lawless arrested in oil-ship protest

Lucy Lawless, of Xena Warrior fame, boarded an oil-drilling ship in New Zealand to protest oil drilling. The native New Zealander and other Greenpeace activists were arrested on Sunday.
Image: Greenpeace handout photo of Lucy Lawless
Lucy Lawless, of Xena Warrior fame, was arrested after spending four days aboard a Shell oil-drilling ship in New Zealand.

Police on Monday arrested actress Lucy Lawless and five Greenpeace environmental activists after the group spent four days protesting aboard an oil-drilling ship docked in New Zealand.

"Seven of us came up the tower on Shell's drillship but 4 days later 130,000 will come down. In solidarity we can #savethearctic," Lawless tweeted.

Police removed the group from their perch atop a 174-foot drilling tower on the Noble Discoverer in Port Taranaki. Lawless and six activists climbed the tower early Friday in an attempt to raise awareness about oil drilling in the Arctic and prevent the ship from leaving.

Lawless, 43, a native New Zealander, is best known for her title role in the TV series "Xena: Warrior Princess," and more recently for starring in the Starz cable television series "Spartacus."

The ship was due to drill five exploratory wells during the Arctic summer, Greenpeace spokesman Nathan Argent said. He said Greenpeace is concerned about the rush of companies trying to drill in the Arctic and the potential for catastrophic spills in the ecologically sensitive region.

"The oil companies are pushing the frontiers in the Arctic," he said. "There's a relentless push to get the last drops of oil."

A police spokeswoman said Lawless and five other activists would be processed Monday at a local station.

Chartered by oil company Shell, the ship had been due to leave over the weekend for the Arctic to drill five exploratory wells.

Lawless spoke to The Associated Press from atop the tower Friday, where she said wind gusts were making it difficult for the group to stay put. She said she felt compelled to take a stand against oil-drilling in the Arctic and against global warming. She said she had a "little bit" of food and some provisions with her.

The protesters hung banners from the drilling derrick reading "Stop Shell" and "#SaveTheArctic."

"I've got three kids. My sole biological reason for being on this planet is to ensure that they can flourish, and they can't do that in a filthy, degraded environment," Lawless said. "We need to stand up while we still can."

In a series of tweets over the weekend, Lawless described some of the challenges of staying on the tower.

"I found last night pretty darn scary," she wrote. "Not for sissies."

In a release, Rob Jager, Chairman of Shell New Zealand, said the protest had put people in danger and he was pleased it was over. He said he remained disappointed that Greenpeace hadn't taken up the company's offer to engage in a "productive conversation."

Shell spokeswoman Shona Geary said she thought the ship would leave port within the next few days.

Bunny McDiarmid, the chief executive of Greenpeace New Zealand, said she thought the protest had gone "brilliantly" and that more than 100,000 people had sent messages to Shell to oppose the company's Arctic plans.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.