Dutch want tribunal to make Russia free protesters


| Zoom

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Netherlands asked an international tribunal Monday to order Russia to release a Greenpeace protest ship and the activists who were on board.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the government made the request to the Hamburg, Germany-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

A group of 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists have been held since their ship, the "Arctic Sunrise" was seized by the Russian coast guard after a protest near a Gazprom-owned oil rig on Sept. 18.

The activists are being held in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. They have been charged with piracy, an offense that carries a 15-year sentence in Russia.

Timmermans said the request was a procedural step in an arbitration case the Dutch launched two weeks ago seeking to free the activists and their ship, which sails under the Dutch flag.

He told reporters in Luxembourg "it will come as no surprise to the Russian Federation" that the Dutch have now asked for the tribunal to order the release pending a final decision in the case.

In a statement, Greenpeace International welcomed the Dutch initiative and called on other governments whose nationals are among the detained activists "to step up their work to ensure the immediate release of the detainees."

The tribunal the Dutch are turning to adjudicates in disputes arising from interpretation and application of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The wife of the "Arctic Sunrise" captain said Monday that she had spoken with her husband for the first time since the ship was seized last month .

Maggy Willcox, of Norwalk, Connecticut, told The Hour of Norwalk newspaper that she spoke briefly with her husband, Peter Willcox on Monday morning.

"He sounds strong and positive and he said the people around him were treating him well," she said.

Maggy Willcox said during the three- to four-minute call, her husband reported doing pushups and yoga in his prison cell.

"He's a vegetarian. He said he's been straining meat out of everything, so he's lost weight, which he's pleased about," she said.

She said he sounded so upbeat, it "put a little starch in our own backbone."

Timmermans said it would likely take about a month for the international tribunal to reach a decision on the request.

"That's what we're pinning our hopes on at this point," Maggy Willcox said.

____

Associated Press writer Raf Casert contributed to this story from Luxembourg.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Failing
    So far, King County voters are rejecting higher car tab fees to save buses

  • Minimum Age Debate
    There's a push to raise the age from 18 to 21 in order to legally buy tobacco

  • Time for Change
    Shannon Drayer is expecting some changes after the Mariners' eighth straight loss
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.