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Ronald McDonald Held Hostage By Activists

GUY RAZ, host:

A bit of troubling news now from Finland: Ronald McDonald has been abducted. A group called the Food Liberation Army took the statue a week ago from a McDonald's in Helsinki.

The FLA, as it's known, has also posted a video on YouTube. In it, the fiberglass Ronald McDonald is bound, gagged and blindfolded. The kidnappers are demanding that McDonald's answer specific questions about the way it produces food.

On the line with me now from an undisclosed location in Finland is Jani Leinonen. He is with the Food Liberation Army.

And first of all, Mr. Leinonen, why did you do it?

Mr. JANI LEINONEN (Food Liberation Army): It all started from the fact that most of our members actually go to McDonald's, most of us go several times a month.

RAZ: So you actually like McDonald's.

Mr. LEINONEN: And...

RAZ: You are actually stealing from the hand that feeds you?

Mr. LEINONEN: Yes. So there's a feeling of guilt. And it comes from that the fact that all industries, fast food industry is doing things in a way that they shouldn't be doing them, so our goal is to make the burgers better.

RAZ: So what are you specifically demanding from McDonald's?

Mr. LEINONEN: Well, there are eight questions that we want them to answer. And basically, they're about openness about the processes of food. For instance, what is their ideal for treating animals and shouldn't it be drug-free and an animal that actually has had a good life?

RAZ: Now, clearly, you are addicted to McDonald's, but I'm assuming you haven't shown your face at a McDonald's this week 'cause presumably you're in hiding, right? I mean, you've abducted Ronald McDonald.

Mr. LEINONEN: Well, they didn't have any security cameras, so actually, I did go to eat there the following day after kidnapping.

RAZ: Oh, I see. Now, you guys set a deadline for McDonald's to respond to your questions. That passed yesterday. You had threatened to execute Ronald McDonald, the fiberglass statue of Ronald. Has McDonald's met your demands?

Mr. LEINONEN: Unfortunately, not. And Ronald was executed in a guillotine last night.

RAZ: Oh. So he's gone?

Mr. LEINONEN: He's gone.

RAZ: Oh. I'm a bit shocked, I have to say. But we called up McDonald's to ask them about your demands. They told us, you know, they're always happy to engage in constructive dialogue, but they called this in very poor taste.

Mr. LEINONEN: Well, yes. But, let's see. The thing, I guess, for us was that we wanted to draw attention to all these questions. Because if we were to send a letter to McDonald's, we would no way get any answers to those questions. But I guess we did it in a wrong way because actually the press started calling the cops, and they came into my house and cuffed me and my assistant then took me to jail.

RAZ: You were arrested.

Mr. LEINONEN: They held me there - yes. And they held me there for over 30 hours and questioned us. And then, of course, they released us, but it was very dramatic.

RAZ: Did you rat out any of your comrades? Did you, you know, reveal location of Ronald?

Mr. LEINONEN: I sang like a bird.

RAZ: You sang.

Mr. LEINONEN: I told them everything.

RAZ: So the police stormed into where you live, they interrogated you for 30 hours. How was it that...


RAZ: ...they weren't able to save Ronald? I mean, this all happened before he was executed.

Mr. LEINONEN: Yes. They actually did found him, but we had a backup plan. We actually had another one.

RAZ: So they got a decoy Ronald?


RAZ: So who's your next target? Who's the next target for the Food Liberation Army? Should Colonel Sanders be worried here? I mean, who are we talking about here?

Mr. LEINONEN: I mean, Ronald was executed only yesterday, so we have to think about the next target.

RAZ: That's Jani Leinonen. He is a representative from the Food Liberation Army in Finland.

Jani, thank you.

Mr. LEINONEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.