9 Oct 2013

Greenpeace tries to cut a deal on Arctic activists

11:41 pm on 9 October 2013

The head of Greenpeace has asked for a meeting with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, following the arrest of the entire crew of the ship used in a protest against Arctic oil drilling.

New Zealanders David Haussmann and John Beauchamp are part of a group of 30 who were arrested on piracy charges after they were apprehended onboard Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise during a protest against a Russian drilling operation.

Greenpeace's executive director Kumi Naidoo says he is willing to travel to Moscow at any moment to secure the release of the crew.

He says he would be a guarantor for the good conduct of the Greenpeace activists if they are released on bail.

They have been charged with piracy and face up to 15 years in jail.

In a letter to Mr Putin he said Greenpeace is willing to face the consequences, as long as they are within a nation's criminal code as any reasonable person understands that code to be.

A spokesperson for Mr Putin says the Kremlin has not yet received the letter and cannot comment.

Earlier, Greenpeace said it feared for the condition of the two New Zealanders held in a Russian jail.

Greenpeace expects David Haussmann and John Beauchamp to undergo an application for bail in the Russian town of Murmansk by the end of the week.

The group's policy advisor Nathan Argent fears their applications may be rejected.

"As far as we are aware the activists are well and they are receiving all the medical treatment that they need.

"But there has been some issues raised with the conditions they are being kept in. So what we are calling upon the New Zealand Government to do is to provide a letter of guarantee to try to secure their release from the detention centre as quickly as possible."

A letter of guarantee would assure the Russian authorities that if released on bail, New Zealand representatives in Russia would make sure the pair turned up to court when requested to do so, made themselves available for interviews, not flee the country and if needed, surrender their passports.

Argentina and Brazil have already provided the authorities with such a guarantee for their nationals.