Petition: Tell Russia to Release Greenpeace Activists

20 September 2013 (Channel 4 News) – Russian officials with guns storm a Greenpeace ship protesting oil drilling in Russia's Arctic waters. Thirty activists, including six Britons, are still being held, the environmental group says.

The Arctic Sunrise crew were placed under armed guard at 7pm on Thursday night and the boat appears to be headed west towards Russian territorial waters.

Armed coastguards boarded the vessel using a helicopter and ropes, just one day after two activists were arrested by the coastguard following an attempt to board an offshore drilling platform belonging to state natural gas company Gazprom (see video).

Greenpeace is protesting against what it says is "risky" oil drilling in the Arctic by Russia. The ship was in the Pechora sea, an arm of the Barents sea, and inside Russia's exclusive economic zone, Greenpeace said.

Activist Frank Hewetson is held at knifepoint by Russian security forces. The crew of the Greenpeace ship 'Arctic Sunrise' were placed under armed guard at 7pm on 19 September 2013. Photo: Greenpeace

Greenpeace International says it has not received any formal confirmation of possible charges, and the activists have been denied access to legal or consular assistance.

Faiza Oulahsen was one of the activists aboard the vessel when they were held at gunpoint. "They used violence against some of us, they were hitting people, kicking people down, pushing people," she said in a phone call from the ship.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said: "This illegal boarding of a peaceful protest ship highlights the extreme lengths that the Russian government will go to to keep Gazprom’s dangerous Arctic drilling away from public scrutiny.

"We ask President Putin to restrain the coastguard and order them to holster their guns and withdraw." [more]

Russian guards 'storm Greenpeace ship'

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