The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) [official website] on Friday ordered the release [press release, PDF] of the Greenpeace International [advocacy website] ship Arctic Sunrise as well as the release of the 28 activists and two freelance journalists who were arrested on board the ship, upon payment of a €3.6 million euro bond by the Netherlands. The Greenpeace activists were staging a protest against Arctic oil drilling at a Russian fixed gas platform, where they were arrested and charged with piracy [JURIST report]. Upon payment of the bond, the detainees and the Arctic Sunrise will be allowed to leave Russia's territory and maritime areas for the first time since their initial detention at the end of September.
Although 29 of the 30 who were detained in connection with the Arctic Sunrise have been granted bail by Russian courts, Greenpeace welcomed the ITLOS ruling [press release], stating "it is time for the Arctic 30 to come home to their loved ones." Russia's treatment of the activists has drawn criticism [press release] from rights groups such as Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], as well as from other countries. During the plenary session of the Third International Arctic Forum held in Salekhard in September, Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive] acknowledged [RT report] that the activists were not pirates but noted that their actions in trying to take over the Prirazlomnaya were a violation of international law which could have resulted in an oil spill or other dangers to public lives and health. Putin further stated that Greenpeace members could have attended the Arctic Forum and voiced their concerns at that time.