Amsterdam, 29 September 2013 – A further eight Greenpeace International activists have been detained for two months in Russia pending an investigation into possible charges of piracy. The eight will join 22 others, including a freelance videographer and freelance photographer, detained on Thursday following a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling. Greenpeace International pledged to appeal all 30 detentions.
The 30 have already been held by the Russian authorities for 10 days since the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was illegally boarded in international waters on Thursday, September 19th.
The activists detained today are from Brazil, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, and the Ukraine (1). They will join the other 22 being detained at five locations in and around Murmansk. None of the activists pose a flight risk and Greenpeace strongly condemned the decision to refuse them bail.
Activist Sini Saarela from Finland spoke out against her detention from inside a cage used to hold defendants in the Murmansk court. She said:
“I’m an honest person and always ready to be responsible for what I have done. I am not a pirate. Drilling for oil in ice is a tremendous threat to the environment in Russia and across the Arctic.”
Responding to today’s news, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:
“There is absolutely no justification for any charge of piracy, or the decision to deny bail. Our peaceful activists and the two freelancers are being locked away for bringing international scrutiny to Gazprom’s risky Arctic drilling programme. This is a naked attempt to intimidate anyone who opposes the Arctic oil rush and it will not stand.
“Our ship was boarded in breach of international law, and these detentions are similarly invalid. Over half a million people have now sent letters to Russian embassies and the solidarity is building with each passing hour. We will not stop until the Arctic 30 are freed and can return home to be with their families.”
Over 640,000 people have written to Russian embassies around the world since the ship was seized ten days ago. Others calling for the release of the Arctic 30 include Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the actor Ewan McGregor.
On Saturday, the Russian Investigative Committee inspected the Arctic Sunrise with sniffer dogs and what it termed ‘data experts’. Greenpeace International captain Peter Willcox, while still under detention, was present with them during the inspection.
Commenting on the inspection, Naidoo continued:
“We are confident that the authorities found the ship in excellent order, containing the equipment you might find on any Greenpeace vessel for use in a peaceful protest. It’s interesting that they waited for several days to search the ship and we must hope that they have not interfered with it in the meantime.”
(1) The eight activists who were held today were Sini Saarela (Finland), Dima Litvinov (Swedish / US dual citizenship), Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel (Brazil), Mannes Ubels (Netherlands), Faiza Oulahsen (Netherlands), Anthony Perrett (UK), Frank Hewetson (UK) and a Ukrainian activist whose name is being withheld on request.