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Greenpeace: Arctic 30 denied visas to leave Russia

MOSCOW, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- The Arctic 30, Greenpeace activists arrested when Russia seized their ship, are not being allowed to leave the country, the environmental organization said.

The Russian Investigative Committee wrote Anne Mie Jensen, a Danish activist and one of the 30, notifying her it would not ask the Federal Migration Service to issue visas to the group. The FMS has said it would only act if the committee requested visas.

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Russia seized a ship, the Arctic Sunrise, in September as it protested drilling by the state energy company Gazprom in ocean waters. Greenpeace says the vessel was in international waters and it was breaking no laws.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to allow the 30 to leave the country and said the ship should be released once a bond of 3.6 million euros [almost $5 million] was posted. The government of the Netherlands posted the bond Nov. 29, Greenpeace saidFriday.

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"I am ready to go home to my family. We were seized in international waters and brought to Russia against our will, then charged with a crime we didn't commit and kept in jail for two months," said Peter Willcox, the captain of the Arctic Sunrise.

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Willcox has been barred from leaving St. Petersburg. He said he fears that even if he was given a visa the investigative committee would schedule an interview as soon as he left, forcing him either to return to Russia immediately or to violate his bail conditions.

"This is either a mistake and we're caught in a vicious bureaucratic circle, or it's a deliberate snub against international law. Either way this is a farce," he added.

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