Arctic 30: Russia 'defies international ruling' and tells protesters they cannot leave
Friday 13 December 2013
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.
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 MH370: 'Putin ordered plane to be flown to Kazakhstan space port,' conspiracy theory claims
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin, says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...