Russian authorities have filed piracy charges against all 30 people arrested last month following a protest at an Arctic offshore oil drilling platform.
The 30, who come from 18 countries, include activists of the environmental group Greenpeace
and two journalists.
They were arrested on September 18 aboard a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise
, in the Pechora Sea after the vessel approached Russia's only offshore oil production platform in the Arctic and activists tried to scale it.
Piracy charges can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in jail in Russia.
A lawyer for Greenpeace Russia, Mikhail Kreindlin, described the charges as "absurd", saying there is no evidence of a crime.
"We consider these charges to be absurd, unsupported and unlawful. The charges should be presented only when there is an event of crime. We think there is no crime, at least not the one with which they are charged - piracy. According to the Russian criminal code, piracy is an armed attack on a vessel with a target to seize somebody's property," said the lawyer.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last week said it is "obvious" the Greenpeace activists are not pirates, but defended the seizure of their ship, saying the activists had tried to capture the oil platform.
Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Russian president's human rights council, an advisory body, told the Interfax news agency Thursday that he believed there was "not the slightest basis" for the piracy charge.
On Wednesday, London-based human rights group Amnesty International
called the piracy charges against the Greenpeace activists "absurd and damaging to the rule of law" and said they "must be dropped immediately."
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.