Russian court frees 2 Greenpeace members on bail

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2013 2:11 PM
Russian court frees 2 Greenpeace members on bail

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — A Russian court on Monday ordered two Greenpeace crew members released on bail but kept another one in jail following a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.

The three were among 30 people on a Greenpeace ship seized by the Russian coast guard on Sept. 18.

The judge in St. Petersburg on Monday ordered the release of freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov and ship doctor Yekaterina Zaspa on bail of 2 million rubles ($61,500) each, but declined to free Australian Greenpeace activist Colin Russell.

Investigators had asked St. Petersburg courts to extend the detention period of all 30. Hearings for others on the Greenpeace boat are expected in the coming days.

During similar hearings two months ago, the rulings were the same in all 30 cases.

The Russians arrested everyone on board the ship, including cooks and journalists documenting the protest, after a few environmental activists tried to scale an offshore drilling platform owned by Russian state energy giant Gazprom.

All 30 were charged with hooliganism, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years. They were initially charged with piracy, a more serious offense, but investigators said those charges would be dropped.

"I haven't done anything wrong," Russell, 59, told the court, adding that he did not understand why he had been detained.

Judge Alla Yermakova refused him bail, saying he could flee the country, and ordered him held until Feb. 24.