Russia denies bail to three held over Greenpeace Arctic protest
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court denied bail on Tuesday to three of 30 people arrested on piracy charges following a protest by environmental group Greenpeace against offshore oil drilling in the Arctic.
All 30 face up to 15 years in jail if convicted for the protest in which a Greenpeace ship approached an oil platform owned by Gazprom, and have appealed against keeping them in custody through late November for further investigation.
The court in the northern port city of Murmansk rejected the appeals filed by activist Andrei Allakhverdov, ship's doctor Yekaterina Zaspa and Denis Sinyakov, a freelance photographer who documented the protest, Greenpeace said.
All three are Russian. Hearings for the other 27, nationals of 18 countries - including activists who tried to scale the oil platform during the protest - are expected later this week.
Greenpeace says the piracy charges against the activists and crew members are absurd and unfounded and that the conditions of detention have in some cases violated their rights.
"They are now prisoners of conscience, and as such they are the responsibility of the world," said Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International.
The Netherlands launched legal proceedings against Russia on Friday, saying it had unlawfully detained the activists and others on the Dutch-registered icebreaker Arctic Sunrise.
After the protest, Russian coastguard officers forcibly boarded and seized control of the ship. It was then towed to Murmansk and Russia has denied Greenpeace's assertions that the ship had been in international waters when it was seized.
(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Angus MacSwan)