Russia charges two Greenpeace activists with piracy
MOSCOW - Reuters
In this image made available by Greenpeace on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013, 2013, the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, right, is anchored side by side with the Russian Coast Guard Ship in the Kolskii gulf, near Murmansk, Russia on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. AP photoRussian authorities charged two Greenpeace activists with piracy on Wednesday over a protest against Arctic oil drilling at a platform owned by state-controlled energy company Gazprom, the environmental group said.
The piracy charges, which Greenpeace said were absurd, are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The two who were charged, Brazilian crew member Ana Paula Alminhana and British freelance videographer Kieron Bryan, were among 30 arrested after the protest last month in which a Greenpeace icebreaker approached the Prirazlomnaya platform and two activists tried to scale it.
"It is an extreme and disproportionate charge," Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said.
"A charge of piracy is being laid against men and women whose only crime is to be possessed of a conscience. This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest."
A court in the northern city of Murmansk last week ordered all 30 to be held in custody for two months pending further investigation, and charges against the other 28 were expected to be filed soon.
The environmental group says the protest was peaceful and posed no threat, and that piracy charges against the protesters have no merit in international or Russian law.
The Prirazlomnaya platform, Russia's first offshore oil rig in the Arctic and a crucial part of its efforts to tap energy resources in the region, is slated to start operating by the end of the year.