Danish Greenpeace activist accuses Russia of kidnapping
Russia may have broken international law when guards arrested the crew of the Arctic Sunrise in international waters
Anne Mie Roer Jensen, the Danish Greenpeace activist who was released from a Russian prison on November 20, gave her first interview yesterday, in which she told the DR news programme '21 Søndag' that the Russian Coast Guard kidnapped the crew of the Arctic Sunrise.
"We were in international waters and thought they [the Russians] would leave us alone as long as we didn't interrupt them," Jensen said. "We weren't exactly expecting them to send out a helicopter and board our ship."
Jensen was among the 30 Greenpeace activists aboard the Arctic Sunrise who were arrested and charged with piracy after their failed September 18 attempt to board a Gazprom oil rig in the Arctic Ocean.
Surprised by Russian reaction
According to Jensen, the activists were aware that the situation could escalate, but she says she was still surprised by the Russian reaction.
"No-one knew that the Coast Guard was going to shoot after our boats, puncture our lifeboats and nearly push people overboard," she said.
Jensen was eating dinner as she suddenly heard noise coming from the deck. She went outside and said she saw some Russian officials forcing the other crew members down on their knees.
"Then they began to work their way into the ship. We locked the doors to the bridge, because if they got to the bridge they could take over the command of the ship," she said. "We didn't want that. Since we were in international waters they weren't allowed to board [our ship]."
In the end, the Greenpeace activists had to surrender and the Russians took control of the Arctic Sunrise.
"They stopped the engine and the ship started drifting. Then they were in command. That felt very troubling."
Acted like Somalian pirates
Official Russian documents say that Jensen was arrested on September 24, and not on September 18 when the Coast Guard boarded the ship and captured the crew. Jensen said that she thinks the Russian officials committed piracy when they hijacked the ship on open waters.
"I definitely think it is fair to say that we were kidnapped in that period. It is exactly how they do it in Somalia when they capture the ship in international waters and pull the crew onto land," she said.
In the interview, which aired on 21 Søndag yesterday, Jensen also said that she and the other prisoners in the Apatity prison in Murmansk went on a hunger strike until they were allowed to speak to a lawyer.
Jensen was released on a bail amounting to 340,000 kroner paid by Greenpeace. She is currently in St Petersburg awaiting trial. According to Greenpeace, while she has been cleared of the piracy charges, she may still risk getting sentenced to seven years in prison for hooliganism.