Thirty Greenpeace activists are being held by Russian authorities who are investigating them for acts of piracy, reported The New York Times.
The activists and crew members aboard a Greenpeace ship called Arctic Sunrise were attempting to scale an offshore oil platform owned by the Russian state energy giant Gazprom in the Arctic on Wednesday, Sept. 18. They were protesting against the potential environmental threats caused by Russia’s ambitious plans for energy expansion in the region.
After warning shots were fired from across the ship, the Russian Coast Guard detained all members of Greenpeace onboard. The Arctic Sunrise was then towed with the crew and activists on board to the seaport town of Murmansk where they are being investigated on potential charges of piracy.
A spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, Vladimir I. Markin, said in a statement, “All those who carried out the attack on the platform will face criminal charges, regardless of their nationality.”
The crew included one American, six Britons, four Russians, two Canadians, two Dutch, two New Zealanders, two Argentines, and individuals from 12 other nations.
In a statement, Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said, “Any charge of piracy against peaceful protests has no merit in international law. We will not be intimidated or silenced by these absurd accusations and demand the immediate release of our activists.”