14 Dec 2013

Activists 'not free to leave Russia'

12:09 pm on 14 December 2013

Russia has indicated the Greenpeace activists facing trial for an Arctic oil drilling protest cannot leave the country, despite being granted bail.

David Haussmann.

David Haussmann. Photo: AFP

Twenty-six foreigners from 17 countries - including two from New Zealand - are among 30 people who were arrested on the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise in September and face up to seven years in prison on hooliganism charges.

All the activists including New Zealanders Jonathan Beauchamp and David Haussmann were released on bail in November by courts in St Petersburg.

Greenpeace says Russia's federal investigative committee has indicated they are not free to leave the country.

Jonathan Beauchamp.

Jonathan Beauchamp. Photo: AFP

It says it now expects all of the non-Russian defendants will be forced to stay in St Petersburg for Christmas and possibly well beyond.

Greenpeace says the protest was peaceful and the charges unfounded. The arrest of the activists, who were held in jail for two months and initially risked up to 15 years in prison on piracy charges, has drawn criticism from the West, Reuters reports.

The UN maritime tribunal ruled on 22 November that the Greenpeace ship and its crew must be allowed to leave Russia, but Moscow declined to take part in the case lodged by the Netherlands and has suggested it would defy the ruling.