The Prime Minister slammed the Extinction Rebellion (XR) after dozens of protesters halted overnight deliveries of The sun, the The telegraph of the day, the Daily mail and the Time.
Activists chained themselves to bamboo structures and used vans and a boat to obstruct the roads to Newsprinters printing works in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and Knowsley, near Liverpool.
Police arrested a total of 80 people, including 30 in Merseyside and 50 in Hertfordshire, where access was not fully restored until Saturday evening.
XR apologized to newsagents for the disruption, which left shelves empty in parts of the country, but claimed that “the right-wing media is a barrier to the truth.” The group also called on Rupert Murdoch, owner of The sun and The temperature, to “stop suppressing the truth about the climate crisis and profit from the division your newspapers are creating”.
The protests sparked an angry reaction from Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said the blockade was “an attack on our free press, society and democracy”. Other ministers have called the activists “idiots” and “an intolerant minority”.
Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘A free press is vital in holding the government and other powerful institutions to account on issues critical to the future of our country, including the fight against climate change.
“It is totally unacceptable to seek to limit public access to information in this way.”
The blockade was also criticized by Jo Stevens, Labor’s shadow secretary for digital, culture, media and sports, who said: “A free press is vital for our democracy. People have the right to read the newspapers they want. To prevent them from being distributed and the printers from doing their job is a mistake. “
Meanwhile, Phantom Secretary of International Trade for Labor, Emily Thornberry, told Times Radio on Saturday morning: “It’s very disturbing and I don’t really know what is expected to be accomplished and I know that for a lot of older listeners it’s part of their daily life, having their journal delivered in the morning, and i think that’s wrong. ”
However, Labor MP Dawn Butler appeared to praise XR in a quickly deleted tweet: “Bravo ExtinctionRebellion. Excellent work… “
Newspapers said the protests prevented workers from doing their jobs and left newsagents facing a “financial penalty” because of delivery delays.
The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) said the protests had hit home delivery operations, including for “the elderly and vulnerable”, and members were facing “angry customers”.
Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Society of Editors, said: “Everyone has the right to protest peacefully and have their voices heard, after all that’s what a free press is. But it is not acceptable that those who wish only their voice to be heard try to silence others.
A smaller protest near Motherwell, which aimed to cut off the distribution of Saturday’s Scottish Sun newspaper, ended without any arrests. Three activists from Glasgow were pictured standing in front of the gates, holding a banner that read: ‘Free the truth’.
XR hosted several other events in central London on Saturday afternoon, including a “Citizens Assembly!” Protest sit-in in Trafalgar Square and a five-a-side football match targeting Premier League sponsors Barclays for its funding of fossil fuel companies.
Metropolitan Police said on Saturday evening they had denounced 20 people for fines of £ 10,000 for violations of coronavirus regulations.
Officers also seized a 20-foot model boat named after teenage activist Greta Thunberg in Kennington, south London, as it neared the end of its week-long trip from Brighton.
Additional reports by agencies