Despite an international court ruling and the best efforts of Paul McCartney, Russia won't allow the foreign activists facing trial for boarding an Arctic oil drilling platform to leave the country, Greenpeace said Friday.
The Arctic 30, consisting of 28 activists and two journalists, face up to seven years in prison on charges of hooliganism. They were released on bail by St. Petersburg courts last month, and on Nov. 22, the U.N. maritime tribunal ruled that the 26 foreign activists must be allowed to leave Russia pending trial.
But the federal Investigative Committee rejected a request for one of the activists' exit visa, and lawyers for Greenpeace expect that the rest of the non-Russian defendants will be treated similarly. The lawyers had also requested that the defendants be given one month's notice before the committee sought to interview them, so that they'd have time to get back to Russia without breaking their bail conditions -- a request that was also denied.
Peter Willcox, captain of the ship that was seized during the protest, expressed his frustration in a statement released by Greenpeace:
I am ready to go home to my family. We were seized in international waters and brought to Russia against our will, then charged with a crime we didn’t commit and kept in jail for two months. A respected international court says we should be allowed to go home, so do numerous Presidents and Prime Ministers, but we can’t get visas to leave the country, and even if we could there’s no guarantee the Investigative Committee won’t schedule an interview for the day I get home, forcing me to break my bail conditions. This is either a mistake and we’re caught in a vicious bureaucratic circle, or it’s a deliberate snub against international law. Either way this is a farce.