Two French monks from a fundamentalist Catholic convent have been charged over allegedly attacking 5G phone masts to protest at their deployment, a judicial source confirmed to AFP.
The public prosecutor's office in Villefranche-sur-Saône, in the Rhône region, said the two men, aged 39 and 40, admitted setting fire to phone mast on the night of 14 to 15 September in Saint-Forgeux, north-west of Lyon, confirming information first published in Le Progres newspaper.
Damage to the mast was limited.
They argued their act was "to protect the population from the harmful effects" of 5G, according to Villefranche prosecutor Laëtitia Francart.
The two monks were charged with "destruction and attempted destruction by incendiary means" and "criminal association" and placed under judicial supervision.
They belong to a Capuchin community-based at the convent of Saint-François, in Villié-Morgon, which is attached to the fundamentalist movement of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, according to its website.
According to Le Progrès, a spokeswoman for the convent said it was "an isolated act and a youthful mistake". "The waves are very harmful to health and they wanted to act for the well-being of humanity," she told the newspaper.
Research has not found any adverse health effects linked to exposure to 5G technology, with the World Health Organization highlighting that "provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated".