A Greenpeace ship was seized by Russian authorities. The passengers and crew are facing piracy charges for boarding an offshore drilling platform. The Arctic Ocean platform is owned by Gazprom.
A total of 30 activists from 18 countries are facing criminal charges. The activists approached the platform on the Arctic Sunrise ship. The ship was eventually seized by the Russian Coast Guard.
If convicted, the activists could face 15 years in prison and fines totaling $15,000. Russia’s Investigative Committee will begin questioning suspects this week.
As reported by ABC News, Russian authorities are trying to determine the “more active” participants in the platform raid. They say two activists actually boarded the platform with assistance from several others.
Greenpeace representatives say they are protected under international law. They contend the Russian Coast Guard had no authority to board or seize their ship.
Greenpeace International director Kumi Naidoo says their actions fall under the category of “peaceful protest.” Naidoo says their work is crucial, as “governments around the world” have ignored warnings about climate change.
Naidoo further asserts that the activists “will not be intimidated or silenced” by the “absurd accusations.” He demanded release of the ship, passengers, and crew.
The Greenpeace ship is currently docked in the port of Russia’s Northern Fleet.
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin says the activists attempted to “take a drilling platform by storm,” raising doubts about their intentions. He says their behavior could have compromised the platform’s mechanics, causing an environmental disaster.
The activists say they were simply trying to draw attention to the devastating impact of offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
As reported by The Guardian, Greenpeace officials lost contact with the activists when the ship was seized. Representative Maria Favorskaya says Russian officials have provided few details and no documentation of the charges.
Favorskaya says the activists are “basically hostages” on the Greenpeace ship.
Greenpeace officials and their attorneys are working with consular services to make contact with the activists.
[Image via Wikimedia]