Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, from Brazil, is among the five charged with piracy by Russia

Greenpeace activists charged with piracy

Four Greenpeace activists and a journalist held by Russia over a protest at an Arctic oil platform are charged with piracy.

The environmental advocacy group said members from Brazil, Britain, Finland and Sweden as well as the British video operator have been formally charged with piracy.

A group of 30 campaigners, including six Britons, were detained last month after armed Russian coastguards boarded their vessel the Arctic Sunrise after two activists scaled state-owned Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil platform in Arctic waters on September 18.

Greenpeace described the charge, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, as "extreme and disproportionate" and added that more activists are expected to be formally charged on tomorrow.

Russian investigators said the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, had violated the 500-yard security zone around the platform and that it was carrying equipment whose purpose was still unclear.

Greenpeace has said its ship stayed out of this zone but its inflatable boats used by activists to reach the platform and then scale it posed no danger. The activists have been in custody in the northern city of Murmansk since last week.

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