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Piracy Charges Laid Against Greenpeace International Activists
AMSTERDAM - October 3 - A further 15 Greenpeace International activists and a Russian freelance photojournalist were today charged with piracy in Murmansk. This means that all 28 activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, as well as two freelancers, now face the charge. If convicted, the offence carries a maximum 15 year jail term.
Those charged today are:
American Peter Willcox (Captain, Arctic Sunrise); Argentinian Miguel Hernan Perez Orzi; Australian Colin Russell; Britons Frank Hewetson and Iain Rogers; Canadians Alexandre Paul and Paul D Ruzycki; Danish citizen Anne Mie Roer Jensen; French citizen Francesco Pisanu; Italian Cristian D'Alessandro; New Zealanders Jonathan Beauchamp and David Haussmann; Russian Andrey Allakhverdov; Swiss Marco Weber; Turkish citizen Gizhem Akhan and Russian freelance photojournalist Denis Sinyakov.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Greenpeace International have now lodged formal appeals in the Murmansk Lenin district court against the continued detention of the Arctic 30.
Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:
“Our activists have been charged with a crime that did not happen, they are accused of an imaginary offence. There can be no doubt about why the charge of piracy has been brought and the legal hammer wielded. An effort is underway to intimidate us, but our peaceful passionate campaign against Gazprom and all other Arctic drillers will not be silenced.
"A profound injustice is right now being perpetrated against our friends, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters who sit in jail. I call on people across the world to stand with us against Gazprom and all oil companies who want to drill in the Arctic, join us in this fight against bullies of the very worst kind.”
Greenpeace International is taking its efforts to highlight the case, free the activists and protect the Arctic to a global level. On Tuesday night Greenpeace climbers hung a huge banner from the roof of FC Basel’s St. Jakob-Park stadium in Switzerland as the team faced Schalke in the UEFA Champions League - a tournament sponsored by Gazprom. On Wednesday all of Gazprom’s filling stations in Germany were hit by protests.
On Saturday (5th October) tens of thousands of people will take part in an emergency global day of solidarity. Peaceful events are planned in more than 80 cities in 45 countries across the world. In Hong Kong hundreds will gather at the main harbour to form a human banner. In South Africa people will come together at former Apartheid detention centres. In Canada large audio and visual displays will light up at an all-night event. In Madrid supporters will gather in Puerto del Sol with a replica of the Arctic Sunrise ship. And in Senegal fishermen who last year welcomed the Arctic Sunrise on its voyage to preserve their fishing grounds will take to their boats again in an act of solidarity.
Today Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Russian presidential Human Rights Council, said he sees no reason to prosecute the crew of the Arctic Sunrise for piracy (1). The council is an advisory panel established to assist President Putin in fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities to guarantee and protect human rights. Groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders have called for the release of the activists, while media outlets are increasingly highlighting their plight.
Today EU regulators announced they are preparing an anti-trust case against Gazprom, in a move that could cost the oil giant $15 billion. (2)
Greenpeace has also released a letter written by Faiza Oulahsen, 26, a Dutch environmentalist being detained in Murmansk. In the letter, penned shortly before she was charged yesterday, she says: “I have no idea how this is going to end, or how long it’s going to take.” She describes the experience of sitting through hearings in a cage and living in a prison cell that is “ice cold” and where the lights are never turned off. “I started to lose the calmness and self-control I had been using the past couple of days, slowly but surely. Two months in a cell is one thing, but what comes after that? A sentence of a few months or a few years in a case based on lies?”
The 28 activists, a freelance photographer and the freelance videographer, were involved in a protest against the Gazprom Arctic drilling platform Prirazlomnaya on September 18th. Two activists tried to climb the side of the platform and hang a banner.