A court in the northern Russian city of Murmansk has sent eight more Greenpeace activists to jail for two months, bringing to 30 the number of people jailed for environmental protests in the past week.
Twenty activists and two journalists were ordered jailed for two months during a marathon court session on Thursday that stretched late into night, but the court had ruled to hold the remaining eight until new hearings could be held on Sunday.
No charges have been brought against any of the activists, who are citizens of 18 countries, including Russia.
Russian prosecutors are considering whether to charge them with piracy, among other offenses, and the activists are being held pending the investigation.
The Russian Coast Guard disrupted an attempt on September 18 by two of the activists to scale an offshore platform owned by Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to call attention to the environmental risks of drilling in Arctic waters.
The next day, the Coast Guard seized Greenpeace's ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and then towed it to Murmansk with the crew and activists aboard.
'Aggressive and hostile'
Greenpeace Russia campaign director Ivan Blokov has described the seizure of the ship as "the most aggressive and hostile act" against the environmental organization since French government agents bombed the Rainbow Warrior ship in 1985, killing one man.
Peter Willcox, an American who captained the Rainbow Warrior, also is the captain of the Arctic Sunrise. He was ordered held in custody during Thursday's court session.
Greenpeace posted photographs on its website of the separate hearings, with activists shown sitting or standing inside the defendant's cage in the courtroom.
The platform, which belongs to Gazprom's oil subsidiary, is the first offshore rig in the Arctic. It was deployed to the vast Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Pechora Sea in 2011, but its launch has been delayed by technological challenges.
Gazprom said this month it was to start pumping oil this year, but no precise date has been set.
Source: Associated Press