WASHINGTON: Two climate activists were taken into custody on Friday for an attack last month on a sculpture by the French artist Edgar Degas at the National Gallery of Art, US officials said.

Timothy Martin, 53, turned himself in to the authorities in North Carolina while Joanna Smith, also 53, surrendered in Washington, the US Attorney's Office said.

Martin and Smith are charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and injury to a National Gallery of Art exhibit, the US Attorney said in a statement.

Martin and Smith were accused in an indictment of smearing paint on the Plexiglas case and base of Edgar Degas’ “La petite danseuse de quatorze ans” (”Little Dancer, Age Fourteen”) on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

The April attack was claimed by a group called “Declare Emergency,“ which the US Attorney said has also blocked roadways in the Washington area to draw attention to climate concerns.

The US Attorney said the attack caused approximately $2,400 in damage and the exhibit had to be removed from public display for 10 days.

Martin and Smith face up to five years in prison for each offence and a fine of up to $250,000.

Environmental activists, mainly in Europe, have carried out attacks on a number of works of art recently to seek more public awareness about global warming.

They have glued their hands to a painting by Goya in Madrid, thrown tomato soup on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in London and smeared mashed potatoes on a masterpiece by Claude Monet in Potsdam, near Berlin. - AFP