Dozens of activists of the Extinction Rebellion targeted printworks in Broxbourne, north of London and Knowsley in northwest England. They stopped trucks and erected bamboo scaffolding outside the presses, blocking roads out of the facilities.
42 people was arrested at Broxbourne and 30 at Knowsley.
The presses belong to News Corp., which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News. The protests delayed the distribution of The Sun and The Times of London, as well as the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Financial Times.
“We apologise to readers who may be unable to buy their usual newspaper this morning,” the Times of London said in a statement. "Overnight printing of The Times was disrupted by Extinction Rebellion -- alongside other newspapers. We are working to get newspapers delivered to retailers as soon as possible.”
The Telegraph, decided to react, dropping the paywall on its website: “In light of last night's assault on the free press, we have made the decision that all the Telegraph journalism published this weekend is now free to read on our website."
To the words of the Extinction Rebellion protesters they were disrupting the press to “expose the failure of these corporations to accurately report on the climate and ecological emergency.” Johnson, as well as Home Secretary Priti Patel, condemned the protest.
“A free press is vital in holding the government and other powerful institutions to account on issues critical for the future of our country, including the fight against climate change,” Johnson said in a tweet. “It is completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public’s access to news in this way."
Extinction Rebellion has taken extreme actions in the past, including the blocking of roads and bridges, as part of its efforts to push Britain to a more radical agenda fighting climate change. Last year, hundreds were blocking roads and businesses as part of an “Autumn Uprising."
However, some of the party's more radical members took things to the extreme. Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventy South, criticized the targeted newspapers, saying they “relentlessly campaign for right-wing politics, promoting the interests of the ruling class and scapegoating minorities.
“A free press is vital to democracy, but too much of our press isn't free at all,” she said.
Even the left-wing opposition Labour Party criticized the press shutdown in a statement to ITV.
“A free press is vital for our democracy. People have the right to read the newspapers they want," the party said. "Stopping them from being distributed and printers from doing their jobs is wrong.”