UPDATE 4-Russia charges Greenpeace activists with piracy

Wed Oct 2, 2013 4:33pm EDT
 
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* Activists charged over protest at Arctic oil platform

* Greenpeace says piracy charges are absurd

* Citizens of 18 countries have been arrested

By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Russia charged Greenpeace activists with piracy on Wednesday over a demonstration last month against Arctic oil drilling, a charge that could bring long prison terms for a protest in a region the Kremlin sees as a key to future prosperity.

The federal Investigative Committee said authorities had begun charging the 30 people from 18 countries arrested after two Greenpeace activists tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, which plays a crucial role in Russia's effort to mine Arctic resources.

By evening, 14 people had been charged with piracy, Greenpeace said, including activists and icebreaking ship crew from Argentina, Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, as well as a dual U.S.-Swedish citizen and a British videographer who documented the protest.

Greenpeace said the piracy charge, which carries a jail term of up to 15 years, was absurd.

"It is an extreme and disproportionate charge," said Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.   Continued...