NORWALK, Conn. -- The piracy charges against Peter Willcox, a Norwalk native and captain of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, and his crew were reduced to "hooliganism" by the Russian government, Greenpeace announced.
Greenpeace, dubbing the activists as the Arctic 30, has had lawyers acting on behalf of the organization who lodged formal appeals in the Murmansk Lenin district court against the continued detention of the crew, who come from around the world.
“The Arctic 30 are no more hooligans than they were pirates," said Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia. "This is still a wildly disproportionate charge that carries up to seven years in jail. It represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest. They should be with their families, not in a prison in Murmansk."
Chuprov added that Greenpeace will fight the charges of hooliganism "as strongly as we contested the piracy allegations."
While the group claims it was peaceably protesting the drilling, two people from the Greenpeace ship reportedly attempted to climb a Russian oil drilling platform on Sept. 18. Russian authorities responded swiftly, taking the ship at gunpoint and towing it back to the mainland.
Greenpeace called the seizure of the boat "illegal" and is intending to file a criminal complaint over the incident and over alleged rights violations.