The European Parliament discussed the case of the 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists detained in Russia with the Commission and the Council on Wednesday afternoon in Strasbourg. Russian authorities seized their ship on 19 September, after their protest against a Gazprom-owned oil platform drilling in the Arctic Barents Sea.
Whilst the debate was under way, the Russian authorities announced that they would replace the piracy charges against the activists and journalists with charges of hooliganism, which carry a shorter period of detention. These charges are nonetheless "disproportionate", said MEPs, stressing that they could also be seen as a threat to democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of demonstration.
They called on the Council and Commission to take action to ensure the release of the detainees. The arbitration procedure initiated by the Netherlands to have the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea enforced was welcomed.
Procedure: Council and Commission statement