A UN maritime court has told Russia to free 30 people held after a Greenpeace protest in the Arctic and hand back their ship.
Moscow said it would study the ruling but that the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea had no jurisdiction over the case. Greenpeace welcomed the verdict but denounced the situation.
“It is sad because it means that our activists have spent more than two months in prison for a crime that they did not commit,” said Kumi Naidoo, the Director of Greenpeace International. “But the world must remind themselves that this action that they took, this peaceful, courageous action, was not in their self-interest.”
In fact, nearly all of the Greenpeace activists have just been freed on bail by Russia, including Peter Willcox, the ship’s American captain.
But it is unclear whether they will be allowed to leave the country, with a trial for hooliganism pending.
And those released, from at least 16 countries, will be thinking of fellow detainee, Australian Colin Russell, whose custody has been extended until February next year.
The 30 arrested in September’s Greenpeace protest in which activists tried to scale a Russian oil rig in the Arctic, could be jailed for up to seven years if convicted.