Arctic 30: Russia 'defies international ruling' and tells protesters they cannot leave

 

The Russian authorities have told a group of Greenpeace activists and freelance journalists arrested during a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic that they cannot leave the country.

The environmental group said the decision was in defiance of a ruling of an international court, and repeated its demand that the 28 activists and two journalists, including six Britons, should be allowed home.

The so-called Arctic 30 were arrested more than two months ago after the Russian authorities boarded their vessel during their protest.

They have all been granted bail by courts in St Petersburg but have remained in Russia while efforts are made to give them permission to leave.

Greenpeace revealed today that Russia's Investigative Committee has written to one of the 30 - Anne Mie Jensen from Denmark - indicating that they are not free to leave the country.

Lawyers for Greenpeace said they expect all of the non-Russian defendants will be treated in the same way by the authorities, meaning they would now be forced to stay in St Petersburg for Christmas and possibly well beyond.

Lawyers have also been seeking an assurance that the investigative committee would give at least one month's notice when it wanted to interview the 30; otherwise they could break their bail conditions if they returned home.

In its letter to Anne Mie, the committee said it would not provide the requested notice.

Peter Willcox, the American-born captain of the Greenpeace vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, said: "I am ready to go home to my family. We were seized in international waters and brought to Russia against our will, then charged with a crime we didn't commit and kept in jail for two months.

"A respected international court says we should be allowed to go home, so do numerous presidents and prime ministers, but we can't get visas to leave the country, and, even if we could, there's no guarantee the investigative committee won't schedule an interview for the day I get home, forcing me to break my bail conditions.

This is either a mistake and we're caught in a vicious bureaucratic circle, or it's a deliberate snub against international law. Either way this is a farce."

A ruling in November by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, made up of 21 eminent judges, ordered Russia to allow the Arctic 30 to leave the country immediately and to release the Arctic Sunrise, as soon as a bond of 3.6 million euros (£3 million) in the form of a bank guarantee was paid.

The bond was posted by the Government of the Netherlands, where the Arctic Sunrise is registered, on November 29, so Greenpeace said Russia was now in defiance of that order.

Greenpeace International legal counsel Daniel Simons said: "The Russian Federation is now in clear breach of a binding order of an international tribunal. As President Vladimir Putin stated in his famous open letter to the American people on Syria, 'The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.'

"In his state of the nation speech in Moscow yesterday, he added 'We try not to lecture anyone but promote international law'. It's time for the authorities to act in that spirit and allow the Arctic 30 to go home to their families immediately."

Greenpeace added that an amnesty decree likely to be voted on by the Duma - the Russian parliament - this month could still see legal proceedings against the Arctic 30 dropped.

A draft of the decree submitted by President Putin does not include the Arctic 30, but the group said a small amendment by the Duma would see them covered by the amnesty.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory