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October 02, 2013

Russia Charges Greenpeace Activists With Piracy

by VOA News

Russian authorities have formally charged 13 Greenpeace activists and one freelance videographer with piracy after they were seized during a protest against Arctic drilling.

Those charged Wednesday are from Russia, Finland, Brazil, Britain, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, Argentina and Sweden. Piracy charges can carry up to 15 years in jail in Russia.

The 14 are among 30 Greenpeace activists arrested September 18 in the Russian Arctic and held in the city of Murmansk, after they approached and tried to scale an oil drilling platform owned by Russian state-controlled oil company Gazprom.

Greenpeace calls the move "an outrage." Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said the charges were meant to intimidate and silence the activists, but he vowed Greenpeace "will not be cowed."

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week said it was "obvious" the Greenpeace activists were not pirates, but defended the seizure of their ship, saying the activists had tried to capture the Russian oil platform.

The activists were detained in the Pechora Sea near Russia’s only offshore oil production platform in the Arctic.

Russian Border Police seized the activists and towed their boat, the Arctic Sunrise, to Murmansk.

More than 40 international environmental groups have signed a petition asking President Putin to release the boat and its crew.

Last year, Greenpeace activists boarded the same rig and hoisted a protest banner.