A St Petersburg court has ruled that a Greenpeace activist being held in Russia on charges of hooliganism could be remanded in custody in the country until at least February. Twenty-nine fellow campaigners are expected to receive similar fates in the coming days.
The Australian man, Colin Russell, was one of the 30 protestors arrested back in October after attempting to board the Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Pechora Sea. The men and women from all over the world – including six Britons – were protesting against drilling for oil in the Arctic when their ship was seized.
Russell stood before the court on Monday morning and was told that his application for bail or house arrest had been refused, and that he could face detainment until February 24 to allow investigations to continue.
Before being addressed by the judge, he said, “I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t understand the reasons why I’ve been detained. I’ve done two months hard time for nothing. I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said, “The authorities say they need three months more to investigate an imaginary offence over which they have no jurisdiction.
“We will continue to pursue every legal avenue we can, and leave no stone unturned, until each and every one of them is home with their families. We hope the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will order their release when they adjudicate on Friday.”
The ‘Arctic 30’, as they have become known, were arrested by a Russian coastguard on September 18. They were initially charged with piracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, but this charge was subsequently varied to hooliganism.
More of the detainees are to appear before the Russian court over the coming days.