Eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates have appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to get piracy charges dropped against Greenpeace activists who boarded an oil platform to protest Arctic drilling.
“We are confident that you share our desire to respect the right to non-violent protest,” the signatories said, according to a text of a letter e-mailed by Greenpeace today. “As you know, the Greenpeace activists were unarmed and used only peaceful means to demonstrate their opposition to the oil drilling operations threatening the Arctic.”
While the Russian leader had “great respect” for the Nobel laureates, he’s unable to influence the judicial process, the RIA Novosti state news service cited Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying.
The 28 activists and two journalists from 18 countries face as long as 15 years in jail for alleged piracy during their Arctic protest. Two Greenpeace protesters scaled OAO Gazprom (GAZP)’s Prirazlomnoye rig in the Pechora Sea on Sept. 18. A day later Russia’s Coast Guard boarded the group’s Arctic Sunrise ship in international waters and towed the vessel to Murmansk.
The 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners include South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and others from countries including Iran, Yemen and Argentina.
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