Greenpeace protest ship departs Russia 10 months after high profile arrest

A Greenpeace ship has departed Russia more than 10 months after it was arrested by Russian authorities during a high profile protest against arctic drilling.

The MV Arctic Sunrise has departed the port city of Murmansk and is now sailing for its home port of Amsterdam, Greenpeace said in a statement released Friday.

The ship has been held since September 2013 when it was used by Greenpeace activists to stage a protest against arctic offshore drilling at Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform located in the the Pechora Sea.

Following several tense confrontations between the activists and the rig’s onboard security team, the Arctic Sunrise and its 30 crew, including two journalists, were arrested and brought to Murmansk. The activists, who became known as the “Arctic 30?, originally faced charges of piracy and then up to 7 years in prison on lesser charges of “hooliganism”. All charges were eventually dropped by Russia in December against all 30 activists.

The MV Arctic Sunrise was released from custody on June 6th following a decision by Russia’s Investigative Committee. A Greenpeace crew returned to the vessel June 27th and has since been preparing the ship for its departure. The Greenpeace statement said that the vessel was found in a neglected state upon their return, with navigation, communications and safety systems either removed or destroyed.

The statement added that Russia’s Investigative Committee recently told them that it had extended its investigation into the Arctic 30 case until September 24, 2014, despite the case already being dropped.

The Arctic Sunrise is expected to arrive in Amsterdam in early August. Greenpeace says that vessel will now undergo extensive repairs so it can return to protecting the Arctic from “reckless” oil companies.

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