Cameron Appeals to Putin Over Detained Greenpeace Activists

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene over environmental activists arrested during a campaign against oil drilling in the Arctic.

Cameron said he phoned Putin this week to press the case of the 28 campaigners and two journalists, including six Britons, who were detained after the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise, an icebreaker, was seized in September.

“Charges have been dropped from piracy to hooliganism, but I still think that’s excessive. They’re not hooligans, they’re protesters,” Cameron told BBC radio in an interview. “I totally understand that countries have to have some quite tough rules to stop people invading oil platforms, but I’ve appealed to Vladimir Putin to try to de-escalate this and make sure that these people can go home.”

Russia has faced protests around the world since it detained members of the icebreaker’s crew for their role in a Greenpeace campaign against Arctic drilling and charged them with piracy, which is punishable by as long as 15 years in prison. Russian authorities later said they would downgrade the charges to hooliganism, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years. Greenpeace has said that Russia still hasn’t formally dropped the piracy charge.

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