PORT COLBORNE, Ont. -- Thirteen Greenpeace activists and a freelance videographer were charged with piracy by a state prosecutor on Wednesday for their part in a protest against an oil platform in the Russian Arctic.
Port Colborne’s Paul Ruzycki is not among those charged.
“They’re going after the junior members first,” Ruzycki’s sister Patti Stirling said Wednesday.
Stirling said her brother, chief mate of the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise, and the captain could face the same charges as the rest of the crew. Russian authorities detained the ship two weeks ago.
The piracy charges carry a maximum 15-year jail sentence. The Russians are expected to charge the remaining 16 people from the ship, including a freelance photographer, on Thursday.
Stirling said she’s concerned about the conditions in jail, and said one of the first things her brother asked for when visited by a Canadian consular official was drinkable water.
“They brought him a 10 litre bottle ... his medication finally arrived along with a care package of socks. He said to tell everyone he is OK and thank them for their support,” Stirling said.
Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said in a release the piracy charge 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,” Naidoo said. “This is now the most serious threat to Greenpeace’s peaceful environmental activism since agents of the French secret service bombed the Rainbow Warrior and killed our colleague Fernando Pereira because we stood against French nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific.”