Thirteen activists associated with the Greenpeace organisation have been slapped with charges of piracy in Russia, following an ocean protest against oil drilling in the Arctic. This as Greenpeace activists in Germany chained themselves to fuel pumps at Gazprom petrol stations to protest the latest action against the illegally detained comrades.
A report by the Interfax news agency, quoting a lawyer for the environmental watchdog, said piracy charges were slapped by the Russian authorities against activists from Brazil, Britain, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
The piracy charges were "completely unfounded, arbitrary and illegal," Mikhail Kreindlin, Greenpeace lawyer, said.
"Our activists had no intention of seizing anyone's property. No crime was committed," the attorney added.
Under Russian laws, people slapped and convicted with piracy charges face up to a maximum 15 years in prison.
Greenpeace protest against Esso / ExxonMobil (Wikimedia)
The Greenpeace activists charged with piracy include:
1) Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel (Brazil)
2) Sini Saarela (Finland)
3) Roman Dolgov (Russia)
4) Tomaz Dziemianscuk (Poland)
5) Faiza Oulahsen (Holland)
6) Anthony Perrett (UK)
7) Alexandra Harris (UK)
8) Philip Ball (UK)
9) Kieron Bryan (UK)
10) Mannes Ubels (Holland)
11) Camila Speziale (Argentina-Italy)
12) Dima Litvinov (US-Sweden)
13) A Ukranian crew member
14) A Russian crew member
The group, part of a 30-man assembly of Greenpeace activists arrested in September, have been alleged by Russian prosecutors to have been carrying a large haul of equipment when they allegedly breached the platform's 500-metre safety zone.
Greenpeace had denied this, saying the activists were on board inflatable rafts when they approached the platform.
Jail Time Await 13 Greenpeace Activists Accused of Piracy in Russia (http://www.greenpeace.org)
"This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest," Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International executive director, said.
"Any claim that these activists are pirates is as absurd as it is abominable."
"It is utterly irrational, it is designed to intimidate and silence us, but we will not be cowed."
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