A Russian court on Monday refused to release one of 30 activists [profiles] for Greenpeace International [advocacy website] who were detained in September while trying to board an oil rig. Russian authorities arrested the Greenpeace activists in September for attempting to scale an oil platform owned by a Russian energy company and charged the activists with hoolaginsim [AP report]. The activists face up to seven years in prison if convicted. In a press release [text], Greenpeace stated that they would pursue every legal channel available to ensure that the activists are freed:
The authorities say they need three months more to investigate an imaginary offence over which they have no jurisdiction. ... Our friends may now be in jail for months longer, all because they made a stand for all of us in the pristine Arctic. We will continue to pursue every legal avenue we can, and leave no stone unturned, until each and every one of them is home with their families.The activists will likely be detained until February when they will face trial.
Last month the Dutch government asked [JURIST report] the UN-backed International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) [official website] to order Russia to return the activists and their ship. Russia's treatment of the activists has drawn criticism from rights groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website, press release] as well as 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.