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Dutch Government Asks Court To Free Greenpeace Activists

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans (file photo)

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans (file photo)

The Netherlands says it has asked an international tribunal to order Russia to release an environmental protest ship and the activists who were on board.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans says the government made the request on October 21 to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in Hamburg, Germany.

A group of 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists have been held since their ship, the "Arctic Sunrise," was seized by the Russian Coast Guard after a protest outside a Gazprom-owned oil rig on September 18.

They have been charged with piracy, an offense that carries a maximum 15-year sentence in Russia.

The Netherlands is taking action because the "Arctic Sunrise" sails under a Dutch flag. Timmermans said it expected a hearing within three weeks.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP