UPDATE 2-Russia charges 30 with piracy over Greenpeace Arctic protest

Thu Oct 3, 2013 2:06pm EDT
 
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* Activists from 18 nations charged over offshore platform protest

* Could be sentenced to 15 years in prison if convicted

* Greenpeace says activists accused of "imaginary offence"

By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Russia has pressed piracy charges against all 30 people arrested after the environmental group Greenpeace staged a protest at an offshore oil platform in the Arctic, investigators said on Thursday.

The accused could be sentenced to 15 years in prison if convicted over the protest last month, in which a Greenpeace ship approached a platform belonging to state-controlled energy firm Gazprom and two activists tried to scale the rig.

Greenpeace has dismissed the piracy charges as absurd and unfounded. It says the protest at the Prirazlomnaya platform was a peaceful effort to draw attention to what it says are grave dangers posed by drilling in the fragile Arctic environment.

"Our activists have been charged with a crime that did not happen, they are accused of an imaginary offence," Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said. He said the group's campaign against Arctic drilling "will not be silenced".

The 30, who were aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise during the protest, are being held in custody in the northern Russian city of Murmansk.   Continued...