Hillary Clinton expressed her concern today about the fate of 30 Greenpeace activists held in Russia on piracy charges, telling the Chatham House think-tank there should be “a real outcry” over the case.
“There should be a greater international outcry over Russia’s arrest of Greenpeace activists and charging them with piracy. Ultimately, President Putin will decide what is in his country’s interest, but that needs to be balanced by a real outcry,” the former US Secretary of State said.
Mrs Clinton’s intervention came on the day a Russian court denied bail to two of the Britons detained following a protest at an Arctic oil rig last month, a decision Greenpeace said “flew in the face of all reason”.
Activist Phil Ball of Oxfordshire and freelance video journalist Kieron Bryan of London – two of six Britons held after the protest at state energy company Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea – will now remain behind bars until a hearing on 24 November.
“We expected such a decision, considering that Tuesday the court refused to free journalist Denis Sinyakov, who like Kieron had a more distant connection with activists,” Sergei Golubok, a Greenpeace lawyer told The Independent from Murmansk. Three Russian crew members from the Arctic Sunrise were denied bail earlier this week along with Mr Sinyakov, a well-known photographer in Russia.
The Russian authorities boarded the ship and detained 28 crew members and two freelance journalists after two activists attempted to hoist themselves on to the side of the platform late last month. The group was later charged with piracy, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said he had offered “significant sureties” that the detainees would not skip bail if released, adding that as a journalist, Mr Bryan had committed no crime.
A case has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights over the “inhumane” conditions the detainees in Murmansk, including claims that they are being denied essential medication.
“There’s no regular access to such simple things as clean water, regular meals and a warm enough air temperature,” Mr Golubok said.
Last week, Mr Bryan’s father appealed to Russian authorities to “come to their senses” and release his son.
The Foreign Office has raised the case with the Russia’s ambassador to the UK, while Foreign Secretary William Hague discussed the topic with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
An Amnesty International spokesman said: “The piracy charge is absurd, unfounded and ludicrous and damaging to the rule of law. These charges should be dropped immediately.”