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What the ECB 'confetti protest' was all about

After a confetti-throwing protester disrupted the European Central Bank's (ECB) monthly press conference on Wednesday, curiosity has mounted about the young activist and her reasons for calling the central bank "illegitimate" and a "dictatorship."

Daniel Roland | AFP | Getty Images

Not usually known for excitement, ECB President Mario Draghi's regular question-and-answer session after the bank's latest policy meeting was interrupted when a woman jumped up on the desk in front of him. She began shouting, "End the ECB dictatorship," doused Draghi with confetti and a threw a pile of papers in the air, as security guards leapt to restrain her.

The protest at the monthly conference – an affair usually dominated by the bank's efforts to quell the ongoing economic troubles of the euro zone– sent attending journalists into a social media frenzy, with #confettigate trending on the Twitter.

The protester, later identified by the media as 21-year-old German activist Josephine Witt, was swiftly restrained by security and carried out horizontally from the room before the press conference resumed. Draghi, who was visibly surprised during the outburst, quickly returned to his prepared speech.

Witt was released without charge after being questioned by the police about the incident.

Her Twitter account gained hundreds of followers after the event, with the public eager to know more about the activist and to both praise and criticize her actions.

Daniel Roland | AFP | Getty Images

Witt responded on Twitter with calls to "take back democracy" and Tweeted one of the many letters she had thrown over a Draghi.

In the letter, she listed her complaints about the ECB, saying that those affected by the bank's policies were "not the chips in the ECB's gambling game. Not to be played with, not to be sold, not to be devastated." She called the ECB an "illegitimate institution" with an "insane narrative" that was not listening to the people.

Witt also warned of more protests to come. "Today I'm just a butterfly sending you a sentence, but be afraid more are coming. We will take back power over our own lives," she said in the letter.


The ECB said it would investigate how Witt, who posed as a journalist for youth-orientated VICE media, was allowed entrance to the conference.

The central bank has overseen strict—and sometimes controversial—austerity programs in the euro zone countries hit hardest by the financial crisis, such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

Speculation has mounted that Witt, who is from Hamburg, is a member of Femen, a feminist activist group whose bare-breasted protests have targeted high-profile events and leaders, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, Witt said in a Tweet that the confetti attack was not a "femen protest" and that she saw herself as a "freelance" activist.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld