Authorities apply for three month extension to Arctic 30 detention

North PoleAmsterdam, 15 November 2013 —  Russia’s Investigative Committee today announced that it will apply for a three-month extension to the detention of the Arctic 30. They will make the applications in front of a judge at hearings next week.

Applications to keep the 30 in jail have only been filed for some of them — so far six extension requests have been filed today with the Kalininskiy District Court, with more possible later today and a further nine expected to follow on Monday.

Greenpeace lawyers have been told the Investigative Committee is applying to keep the detainees in prison for a further three months while they investigate their alleged crimes. The Committee needs to apply to a court to have its application upheld. If it is not upheld by a judge, the 30 will be released.

Responding to the news, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:

“Our hearts break for our friends in jail and for their loved ones on the outside. We will fiercely resist this absurd attempt to keep those men and women in jail for a crime they did not commit. If the authorities succeed then we will appeal and ask for their release as soon as the court can schedule a hearing. This is a farce, it is an outrage that makes a joke of justice. It’s time for the Arctic 30 to come home.”

The hearings must be completed by November 24th. Greenpeace International will oppose the applications in court. Greenpeace lawyers will also make a subsidiary argument that bail should be granted to the 30 while the investigation continues. If the application for further detention is upheld by the judge, Greenpeace lawyers will then appeal that decision and will again apply for bail. If bail is granted it could be subject to travel restrictions while the investigation continues. Only if that application fails would the 30 then remain in jail.

Kumi Naidoo said:

“The authorities have already taken two months to investigate an imaginary crime in which the so-called perpetrators sent out a press release explaining exactly what they were doing before then releasing detailed video footage of them actually doing it. Now the authorities need three more months to investigate? This sham should end now, everybody knows this is not a genuine criminal investigation. Those brave men and women are being held not because of what they did but because they shone a light on dangerous Arctic oil drilling.

“Greenpeace will fight for their freedom with everything we have, but we can’t do it alone, we need people across Russia and the world to stand with us for decency, liberty and the basic fundamental right to peaceful protest.”

Despite promising to withdraw the charge of piracy, the Investigative Committee has thus far failed to formally do so. The Arctic 30 have now been detained by the Russian authorities for nearly two months, since the Arctic Sunrise was seized on September 19th.

Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights, today told RIA Novosti media that he believes the transfer of Arctic 30 to St Petersburg was a prelude to a  change in their charges and their eventual release [1].

The activists went to the Arctic to shine a light on dangerous oil drilling and the threat it poses both to the fragile polar environment and the global climate. In the last 30 years, three-quarters of the summer sea ice cover at the top of the world has disappeared. Earlier this week the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that 74% of the world’s untapped oil reserves must remain unburned if the world is to have even a 50:50 chance of avoiding dangerous levels of climate change. This means there can be no place for Arctic oil in any scenario where the world takes action to avoid unsafe levels of global warming. An Arctic oil spill would be almost impossible to clean up, due to the remote location and harsh conditions.