Russia Charges 30 with Piracy Over Greenpeace Arctic Protest
MOSCOW, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Russia has pressed piracy charges against all 30 people arrested after the environmental group Greenpeace staged a protest at an offshore oil platform in the Arctic, investigators said on Thursday.
The accused could be sentenced to 15 years in prison if convicted over the protest last month, in which a Greenpeace ship approached a platform belonging to state-controlled energy firm Gazprom and two activists tried to scale the rig.
Greenpeace has dismissed the piracy charges as absurd and unfounded. It says the protest at the Prirazlomnaya platform was a peaceful effort to draw attention to what it says are grave dangers posed by drilling in the fragile Arctic environment.
"Our activists have been charged with a crime that did not happen, they are accused of an imaginary offence," Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said. He said the group's campaign against Arctic drilling "will not be silenced".
The 30, who were aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise during the protest, are being held in custody in the northern Russian city of Murmansk.
They include activists and crew members from 18 nations on five continents as well as a British videographer and a Russian photographer who were documenting the protest.
Greenpeace released a letter in which Faiza Oulahsen, a 26-year-old Dutch activist who was charged on Wednesday, said it was "ice cold" in her cell and the lights were never turned off.
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