NORWALK, Conn. -- Greenpeace International condemned Russian court rulings Thursday that left more than two dozen activists in custody -- including South Norwalk native Peter Willcox, the environmental group said in a statement.
A total of 28 Greenpeace International activists, as well as a freelance photographer and a freelance videographer, were taken in handcuffs to the Lenin district court in Murmansk, Russia. Of the 30, 22 were remanded in custody for two months pending an investigation into piracy charges, while eight were detained for three days pending a new hearing.
They were removed from their Greenpeace ship and taken into Russian custody during an Arctic oil protest last week. Willcox is famous as the captain of the Rainbow Warrior flagship that was bombed by French government agents in New Zealand in 1985.
“These detentions are like the Russian oil industry itself, a relic from an earlier era. Our peaceful activists are in prison tonight for shining a light on Gazprom’s recklessness," Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said. "The Arctic is melting before our eyes, and these brave activists stand in defiance of those who wish to exploit this unfolding crisis to drill for more oil."
Greenpeace USA executive director Phil Radford said: “The brutal response to the Greenpeace crew and activists in the Pechora Sea was shocking enough, but today’s developments - the hefty detentions given to 30 peaceful activists while so-called piracy charges are investigated, the shocking conditions in the court, the fact that these people were taken at gunpoint almost a week ago and still have not be charged with a thing - reflect bleakly on Russia and the lengths it’s government will go to in order to protect a dying oil industry."
Greenpeace International says piracy charges are unjustified and that Russian authorities boarded the Arctic Sunrise illegally in international waters. Several international legal experts have supported that view.
Greenpeace describes itself as an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behavior, to protect the environment and promote peace.