Newport activist faces 15 years in Russian jail
5:33pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in News
A NEWPORT green activist stuck in a Russian jail has been charged with piracy in a move dubbed a "ludicrous overreaction" by a city MP.
Anthony Perrett was one of 30 Greenpeace activists that were imprisoned after Russian security services stormed their boat the Arctic Sunrise.
The pressure group said yesterday that he and other activists involved in a protest over drilling in the Arctic have been charged with piracy by the Russian authorities.
All 30 activists that were on the Arctic Sunrise had been previously detained last weekend for two months, initially without charge.
The charge of piracy carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, and comes despite Russian President Vladimir Putin saying the activists were “clearly not pirates”.
Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West and who was at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Wednesday, said it was a “ridiculous charge” and was “wildly vindictive”.
“It’s a ludicrous overreaction to the situation. It’s grossly unfair. Russians should understand the nature of protest, particularly environmental protest.
“They are not there to do anything but help the planet.”
He said the Russians “seemed to want to send a signal that they aren’t going to have anyone messing in their backyard.”
Mr Flynn said he would be in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which yesterday said that it was providing consular assistance to the six British activists that had been arrested by the Russians.
Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East, told the Argus: “This is a worrying development and I will continue to urge the Foreign Office to do all they can to get him released”.
Greenpeace itself reacted angrily to the decision.
Its international executive director Kumi Naidoo said: “This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest.
“Any claim that these activists are pirates is as absurd as it is abominable. It is utterly irrational, it is designed to intimidate and silence us, but we will not be cowed.”
Mr Perrett, a former Caldicot Town Council councillor, is a tree surgeon and director of a community interest company that encourages the use of renewable energy. He also trains with the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA).
Greenpeace is campaigning against attempts by companies to drill for oil in the waters of the Arctic, warning that a spill would be highly environmentally damaging and extraction of more fossil fuels will add to climate change.
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