Devon

Greenpeace: Arctic Sunrise activist Alex Harris texts 'I'm safe'

  • 24 September 2013
  • From the section Devon
Alex Harris
Communications worker Alex Harris is among 30 Greenpeace crew being held

A British Greenpeace worker held by Russian authorities has texted her parents to say she is "safe".

Alex Harris, 27, is one of 30 crew who have been detained by the Russians onboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise since Thursday.

The campaigners were detained after two activists tried to climb on to a Russian oil rig in a protest against Arctic drilling.

Russian authorities are considering charges of piracy against the crew.

Russia's Investigative Committee said it would question the activists about the demonstration at the Prirazlomnaya oil platform.

It said "all persons involved in the assault on the platform will be brought to justice".

Six Britons are among the crew, including communications worker Miss Harris, who was brought up in Winkleigh, Devon, and now lives in Australia, and engineer Iain Rogers, 37, from Exeter.

Their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, was seized in the Pechora Sea near the rig and is being towed to the port of Murmansk.

It was raided by armed Russian security forces in balaclavas who abseiled down from helicopters.

'Please don't worry'

Miss Harris's parents Linda and Cliff received a text from their daughter saying: "Hi it's Alex. Guess you have seen the news. Just want to let you know I am safe.

"Will call when I can. Individuals have not been charged. Just the ship.

"Please don't worry X."

Agricultural scientist Mr Harris, 63, said he and his wife were "relieved" after getting the text and another later saying: "All is good - now just a waiting game."

He said: "We are a lot happier now and we're fairly positive about the outcome, although we don't know for sure what is going to happen."

Greenpeace
The crew have been held on the ship since it was stormed last Thursday

Greenpeace, which said the crew had only been allowed to contact relatives, has rejected accusations of piracy.

Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said: "Peaceful activism is crucial when governments around the world have failed to respond to dire scientific warnings about the consequences of climate change in the Arctic and elsewhere.

"Any charge of piracy against peaceful activists has no merit in international law. We will not be intimidated or silenced by these absurd accusations and demand the immediate release of our activists."

In a statement on Tuesday, Greenpeace said its ship had arrived in a fjord near Murmansk accompanied by a tug boat and the Russian Coast Guard vessel Ladoga.

The campaigners on the ship are from 18 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Russia, the UK and the US, Greenpeace said.

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Article 227 of Russia's penal code defines piracy as "an attack on a ship at sea or on a river, with the aim of seizing someone else's property, using violence or the threat of violence".

It can be punished with a jail term of up to 15 years, depending on the gravity of the offence, and a fine of up to 500,000 roubles (£10,000; $15,000).

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