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All 30 Greenpeace ‘pirates’ charged

AFP-JIJI, AP

Russian investigators said Thursday they had charged all 30 crew members of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship with piracy over a protest against Arctic oil exploration, an offense that carries the risk of a lengthy prison term.

A court in the northern city of Murmansk last week detained the crew members, including freelance journalists, for two months pending an investigation into their protest on an oil platform owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom. Investigators accused the activists of trying to seize property with threats of violence. The Sept. 18 protest saw several activists scale the oil platform in the Barents Sea to denounce Russia’s plans to drill in the Arctic.

President Vladimir Putin pledged Thursday that Russia will expand its presence in the Arctic, adding that work is under way to restore a major Soviet-era military base there. He said the base is key for protecting shipping routes that link Europe with the Pacific.