Denis Sinyakov was the first to be remanded
A Russian court has remanded seven Greenpeace activists in custody for two months for allegedly trying to seize a Russian oil platform.
Two Russian nationals, a Frenchman, a Pole, a New Zealander, a Canadian and the US captain were all ordered to be held pending the “piracy” inquiry.
A further 23 activists, including six Britons, are waiting to hear of their fate in the court in Murmansk.
Greenpeace says the activists were staging a legal, peaceful protest.
Coastguards arrested them on suspicion of piracy after two scaled an offshore drilling platform.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the activists are obviously “not pirates” but did not criticise their continued detention.
The BBC’s Daniel Sandford: “This is the first time that Greenpeace have found themselves at the criminal end of the piracy law”
The charge of piracy carries a prison term of up to 15 years in Russia.
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee - its equivalent of the FBI - said there was a possibility that the remand orders would be lifted early.
Under Russian law the prosecution can ask a judge to detain people pending further investigation.
Denis Sinyakov, a Russian freelance photographer, and Greenpeace spokesman Roman Dolgov were both ordered to be held in pre-trial detention for two months.
Photos showed Mr Sinyakov, whose photographs of the arrest have been used by Reuters among others, inside a metal cage, still wearing handcuffs, in a room of Murmansk’s Lenin district court.
The other five to be remanded are French deckhand Francesco Pisanu, Polish activist Tomasz Dziemianczuk, New Zealand crew member David John Haussmann, Canadian crew member Paul Douglas Ruzycki and the US captain, Peter Willcox.
The court’s decisions were met with dismay among journalists and photographers in Russia. A protest has been called outside the office of the Investigative Committee - Russia’s equivalent of the FBI - in Moscow, the Guardian’s Shaun Walker said in a tweet.
The 30 activists were being heard in groups, in six different rooms of the courthouse.
Dmitry Artamonov, a Greenpeace co-ordinator, told the Associated Press that the charges were “absurd”. “There can be no other decision except for the release of all the people, including the crew members and all passengers,” he said.
Greenpeace says that all of the activists have now been questioned in the presence of lawyers.
Sue Turner, mother of UK detainee Iain Rogers, told BBC News on Thursday she had not heard from her son since Monday.
"I can’t understand why Putin says they’re not pirates but they’re now in this position," she added.
"Greenpeace are updating me but they’re saying he might be in custody for two months. He’ll be extremely annoyed. He was doing a job and he didn’t cause any damage. It’s a very, very worrying time."
The drama began a week ago, when two activists successfully climbed on to the side of a platform operated by Gazprom, Russia’s state gas monopoly.
They were detained after a short skirmish in inflatable dinghies in which armed Russian FSB officers in balaclavas fired warning shots into the water.
The ship, the Arctic Sunrise, with all its crew was then towed to Murmansk.
Russia views its huge fossil fuel deposits under the Arctic as vital to its economic future, which is why it takes any threat to their exploitation very seriously, the BBC’s Daniel Sandford reports from Moscow.
The campaigners on the ship are from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Russia, the UK and the US, Greenpeace said.
Detainees by nationality
- Argentine: Activist Camila Speziale, second mate Miguel Hernan Perez Orz
- Australian: Radio operator Colin Russell
- Brazilian: Deckhand Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel
- British: Communications officer Alexandra Hazel Harris, videographer Kieron Bryan, logistics co-ordinator Frank Hewetson, activist Anthony Perrett, activist Philip Ball, 2nd engineer Iain Rogers
- Canadian: Bosun Alexandre Paul, first mate Paul D Ruzycki
- Danish: Third mate Anne Mie Roer Jensen
- Dutch: Campaigner Faiza Oulahsen, chief engineer Mannes Ubels
- Finnish: Activist Sine Saarela
- French: Deckhand Francesco Pisanu
- Italian: Deckhand Cristian D’Alessandro
- New Zealand: Boat mechanic Jonathon Beauchamp, electrician David John Haussmann
- Polish: Activist Tomasz Dziemianczuk
- Russian: Spokesman Roman Dolgov, photographer Denis Sinyakov, Dr Yekaterina Zaspa
- Swedish: Campaigner Dima Litvinow
- Swiss: Activist Marco Weber
- Turkish: Volunteer assistant cook Gizhem Akhan
- US: Captain Peter Henry Willcox
Note: only 28 names available
(Source: BBC News)