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Greenpeace Activists Given Pretrial Detention


A Greenpeace activist looks at the "Arctic Sunrise" protest ship moored next to a Russian Coast Guard vessel near Murmansk.
A Russian court has ordered that the American captain of a Greenpeace protest ship, a Russian photographer, and at least six other activists detained when the vessel was seized in Arctic waters be detained for two months pending an investigation.

The activists remanded on September 26 -- including nationals of Russia, Britain, Poland, Canada, and New Zealand -- were among the 30 people detained by Russian authorities last week during a protest near a Gazprom oil platform against Arctic oil activities.

Russian authorities seized the "Arctic Sunrise" icebreaker and towed it with the 30 activists aboard to Murmansk.

No charges have been brought against any of the activists -- who also include Argentinian, Australian, Brazilian, Danish, Dutch, Ukrainian, French, Italian, Turkish, Finnish, Swiss, and Swedish nationals -- and several activists' cases are still being considered by the court.

Russian authorities have suggested they could be charged with piracy, which carries a large fine and maximum 15-year jail sentence, among other offenses.

Greenpeace has called on authorities to drop all charges, saying they are without merit and adding that "the reference to piracy may be an effort to create a retroactive justification for the boarding of the vessel outside territorial waters."

President Vladimir Putin said on September 25 that "of course, they are not pirates, but, formally speaking, they tried to seize an oil platform."

Based on reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and RFE/RL

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