A Russian court has ruled that most of the 30 people arrested on a Greenpeace ship during a protest in the Arctic last week must remain in jail for two months while investigators determine whether or not they can be charged with piracy, among other offenses.
The court in the Arctic port city of Murmansk denied bail for U.S. national Pete Wilcox, the captain of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, along with crew members and activists from Russia and at least 10 other countries. A Russian photographer was on board as well. Several other activists were ordered held for 72 hours pending an investigation into their roles.
The activists were arrested for attempting to board Russia's only offshore oil production platform in the Arctic. If found guilty of piracy, they could be jailed for up to 15 years.
Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Wednesday that some of of them could be released from prison before the two months are up, depending on what investigators find.
President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the Greenpeace campaigners are not pirates. However, he added, by attempting to board the oil rig Greenpeace violated international law and endangered the well-being of both the workers on the rig and the activists.
On Thursday, the Paris-based press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders said that the two-month preventive detention of the Russian photographer, Denis Sinyakov, "constitutes an unacceptable violation of freedom of information."