- (Photo: http://greenpeaceblogs.org)
The American captain of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and a 29-member international crew are being held at gunpoint by Russian authorities who stormed the ship on Thursday following protest against oil drilling.
The ship remained under Russian control in the Arctic as of Friday morning, and the latest updates said it was being stirred toward Russian territorial waters.
"The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them. They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout. In our last phone call with the ship, the crew said that their spirit remains high and they have been boosted by messages of support from thousands of people who stand with them to oppose dangerous Arctic oil drilling," said Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International's Arctic oil campaign.
"The real threat to the Russian Arctic comes not from the crew of the Arctic Sunrise but from Gazprom, one of the most reckless oil companies in the world today."
Molly Dorozenski, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, shared with The Christian Post on Friday that the captain of the ship, Pete Willcox, is the only American on board. The 29 other crew members are of various nationalities, including Britons, Canadians and Australians.
"They used violence against some of us, they were hitting people, kicking people down, pushing people," Faiza Oulahsen, one of the activists aboard the vessel, shared with The Associated Press on Thursday.
Two other Greenpeace activists were arrested a day earlier after they had tried to board an offshore drilling platform belonging to state natural gas company Gazprom. The activist organization has argued that Gazprom is using out of date equipment to drill in one of the most extreme environments on the planet, which could potentially cause wide-spread damage.
The Russian Coast Guard, part of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has said, however, that the activists may face charges of terrorism. AP noted that under Russian law, "terrorism" may include actions that that violate general safety, frighten the public, influence government action, or cause damage to property.
Greenpeace International added in the latest update that it has been 12 hours since it has had contact with Arctic Sunrise, and has not received any formal confirmation of possible charges. It added that the activists have also been denied all legal or consular assistance.
"According to activists on the ship, Russian FSB agents forced their way into the ship's radio room and inflicted significant damage to communication equipment. Some activists were able to conduct interviews by satellite phone from the ship's mess, where they are being held," the media update noted.
Greenpeace is organizing protests at Russian embassies at over 20 of its offices around the world on Friday, and is posting live updates of the ongoing situation on its website.