NZ Greenpeace activists stay detained

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 14:11 21/09/2013
Reuters

Greenpeace releases video they say shows its activists were held at gunpoint before being arrested during their protest at a Russian Arctic oil platform. Linda So reports.

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Two New Zealand activists remain under Russian guard after they were arrested along with other members of a Greenpeace crew while protesting an Arctic oil rig.

Earlier this week, armed Russian Coast Guard officers boarded the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise and arrested the 25 activists on board, after a protest against Gazprom's Arctic oil drilling operations, Greenpeace said.

They remained in the custody of Russian authorities aboard their ship - the Arctic Sunrise - which has been placed under armed guard.

The environmental organisation would not say who the New Zealanders were, citing legal reasons.

No known charges had been laid yet, and Greenpeace said the activists had been denied legal or consular assistance. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it was looking into the situation. 

The Russian Ministry of International Affairs claimed the Arctic Sunrise represented an environmental and security threat - an allegation Greenpeace has denied.

Greenpeace International's Arctic oil campaign chief Ben Ayliffe said the safety of the activists was his main concern. 

"They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout. In our last phone call with the ship, the crew said that their spirit remains high and they have been boosted by messages of support from thousands of people who stand with them to oppose dangerous Arctic oil drilling.

"The real threat to the Russian Arctic comes not from the crew of the Arctic Sunrise but from Gazprom, one of the most reckless oil companies in the world today."

According to activists on the ship, Russian Federal Security Service agents forced their way into the ship's radio room and inflicted significant damage to communication equipment.

It is thought the ship was circling energy giant Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya platform at the three nautical mile limit, inside international waters, when it was boarded by the Russian Coastguard.

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