Tasmanian Greenpeace activist Colin Russell, who is among other 30 arrested during a protest against Arctic drilling, will remain in jail for three more months pending trial, a Russian judge has ruled today.
Prosecutors have asked the courts in St Petersburg to keep all 28 activists and two journalists in jail beyond November 24, when their current detention period runs out.
Colin Russell was the first to have his case heard on Monday.
British journalist Kieron Bryon is due in court later on Monday.
The 30 have been charged with hooliganism over a protest at a Russian oil rig in the Arctic in September. The offence carries a maximum sentence of seven years.
Originally they had been charged with piracy, which carries a longer jail term.
Besides Colin Russell, six others have hearings on Monday. A request for bail or house arrest was denied.
Before being told he must remain in prison, Colin Russell told the judge: “I haven’t done anything wrong.
“I don’t understand the reasons why I’ve been detained. I’ve done two months’ hard time for nothing.”
Last week the 30 were moved to prisons in St Petersburg from Murmansk in the Arctic.
Greenpeace denies any wrongdoing and is urging Russia to release the detainees – who come from 18 countries – and their ship, Arctic Sunrise.
If Russia keeps all 30 in jail for another three months they will remain there during the February 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by Russia in Sochi.
The environmental group’s international executive director, Kumi Naidoo, condemned the judge’s ruling against Colin Russell, saying “this case is now a circus”.
“Our friends may now be in jail for months longer, all because they made a stand for all of us in the pristine Arctic. We will continue to pursue every legal avenue we can, and leave no stone unturned, until each and every one of them is home with their families,” he said.
“We hope the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will order their release when they adjudicate on Friday.”
Russia is not attending the UN tribunal hearing in Hamburg, as it is not party to some UN Law of the Sea dispute procedures.
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