Two Greenpeace activists charged with piracy in Russia

British videographer one of duo who could face up to 15 years in prison

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is seen anchored outside the Arctic port city of Murmansk, on the day when members of a Russian Investigation Committee conducted an inspection of it. Photograph: Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace/Reuters

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is seen anchored outside the Arctic port city of Murmansk, on the day when members of a Russian Investigation Committee conducted an inspection of it. Photograph: Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace/Reuters

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 09:31

Russian authorities have charged two Greenpeace activists with piracy over a protest against Arctic oil drilling, Greenpeace Russia said.

One of the activists is freelance British videographer Kieron Bryan.

The piracy charges, which Greenpeace said were absurd, are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The two who were charged, also including a Brazilian, Ana Paula Alminhana, were among 30 people arrested after a protest last month in which a Greenpeace ship approached an oil drilling platform owned by state-controlled Gazprom and two of them tried to scale the rig.

The activists are in custody in the northern city of Murmansk.

“It is an extreme and disproportionate charge,” Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said.

“A charge of piracy is being laid against men and women whose only crime is to be possessed of a conscience. This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest.”

A court in the northern city of Murmansk last week ordered all 30 to be held in custody for two months pending further investigation, and charges against the other 28 are expected to be filed soon.

The environmental group says the protest was peaceful and posed no threat, and that piracy charges against the protesters have no merit in international or Russian law.

The Prirazlomnaya platform, Russia’s first offshore oil rig in the Arctic and a crucial part of its efforts to tap energy resources in the region, is slated to start operating by the end of the year.

Reuters/AP