Greenpeace International to appeal Russian court rulings as activists face long detentions

Press release - 26 September, 2013
Amsterdam/Sydney, 27 September 2013 — Greenpeace International condemned a series of Russian court rulings today which left dozens of activists in custody pending investigations into a peaceful Arctic oil protest. The group insisted it would not be intimidated and its lawyers would lodge an appeal seeking their immediate release.

Twenty-eight Greenpeace International activists - including an Australian citizen and an Australian resident - as well as a freelance photographer and a freelance videographer, were taken to the Lenin district court in Murmansk in handcuffs, where they were placed in a cage and provided inadequate translators.

Of the 30, 22 were remanded in custody for two months pending an investigation into piracy charges, while eight were detained for three days pending a new hearing.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said: “Labelling non-piracy acts as piracy can harm international anti-piracy efforts... All States should refrain from using the term with regard to acts whichobviously do not amount to piracy.”

“These detentions are like the Russian oil industry itself, a relic from anearlier era. Our peaceful activists are in prison tonight for shining a light on Gazprom’s recklessness. The Arctic is melting before our eyes, and these brave activists stand in defiance of those who wish to exploit this unfolding crisis to drill for more oil.

“I stand alongside millions of people around the world in solidarity with the Arctic 30. Their actions are justified by the abject failure of governments around the world to protect their people from the threat of climate change. We will not be intimidated, we will appeal these detentions, and together we will prevail.”

Included among the 18 nationalities remanded were a 21-year-old Argentinian activist and the American captain of the Rainbow Warrior flagship which was bombed by French government agents in New Zealand in 1985. A full list of those detained can be seen here

Over 500,000 people have written to Russian embassies around the world since the ship was seized a week ago, and Greenpeace is organizing solidarity protests tomorrow in cities around the world.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific will organise a vigil outside the Russian Embassy in Canberra today.

"We are extremely worried about our courageous colleagues Alex and Colin, who face two months in a Russian prison pending investigation," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Programme BenPearson. "The allegations of piracy against these brave Australians is absurd. This is a chilling attempt to stifle peaceful protest and it must not stand. 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her department should call in the Russian Ambassador today and demand their immediate release. While the Foreign Office initially offered our activists full consular support, unlike the Dutch Government, they have yet to make a public statement on the issue."

Greenpeace International insists that possible piracy charges are unjustified, and that Russian authorities boarded the Arctic Sunrise illegally in international waters. Several international legal experts have supported that view.



Julie Macken, Greenpeace Communications Officer, 0400 925 217

Ben Pearson, Greenpeace Head of Programme, 0424 575 111

James Lorenz, Greenpeace Communications Manager, 0400 376 021

Greenpeace International press desk: +31 (0)20 718 24 70 or

Greenpeace International picture desk: +31 (0) 20718 2471

Greenpeace International video desk: +31 (0) 20718 2472



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(1309_Prirzalomnaya_Gazprom and 1309_Arctic_Sunrise_Murmansk)


Ina statement posted online in response to the boarding of the Arctic Sunrise, International legal expert Assoc. Prof. Stefan Kirchner said:

“Labelling non-piracy acts as piracy can harm international anti-piracy efforts... All States should refrain from using the term with regard to acts which obviously do not amount to piracy.”