MEPs yesterday called on High Representative of the EU Catherine Ashton to press the Russian authorities over the 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists who being detained Murmansk, following news that piracy charges had been dropped and replaced with lesser charges. 91 MEPs from twenty countries, including ten Liberal Democrat MEPs from the UK, have signed a statement of solidarity with the Arctic 30 on the Greenpeace website.
Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East Catherine Bearder met many of the crew members aboard the Arctic Sunrise last June when it docked inHastings as part of aUK campaign to support endangered local fishing communities. She commented:
“I welcome the news that the piracy charges have been dropped. Even President Putin had admitted it’s obvious the Greenpeace personnel and independent journalists accompanying them were not pirates.
“All they were doing is highlighting the risks and dangers inherent in oil extraction in the Arctic region. They were speaking for all of us who, following theGulfofMexico Oilspill, worry about extraction in even more vulnerable parts of the globe.
“The European Parliament needs to show we are doing all we can to support them. That is why I am calling on High Representative Catherine Ashton to take up this issue at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers on 21st November, just three days before the activists’ pre-detention hearing. That way we can work to secure their release and get them all home before Christmas.”
Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West and ALDE Party Presidet Graham Watson, who has written a letter to Mrs Ashton urging her to take action on the issue, commented:
“My thoughts are with my constituents Alexandra Harris, Iain Roger, Keiron Bryan and their families. I can only begin to imagine what they and their colleagues are going through after being arbitrarily locked up in cold cells and solitary confinement.
“Russiahas to guarantee that all thirty detainees are given a free trial – and I have asked that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton makes sureRussiafulfils its human rights obligations on this matter.
“We owe it to these brave young people not to allow this incident to weaken our resolve in future when it comes to challenging other countries – big or small – over drilling for oil in theArctic.”