The transport away from Murmansk of 30 men and women detained by Russia following a peaceful protest at an Arctic oil platform started at around 5:00am Monday, local time. Greenpeace International understands the move is taking place by prisoner train. Lawyers for the thirty who tried to visit them in Murmansk this morning were told by officials at the detention centre that all thirty were already being transported. Ben Ayliffe, Greenpeace International Arctic campaigner, commented: “We don’t yet know if the relocation of these wrongfully accused people will see an improvement in terms of their detention conditions and basic human rights. We are doing everything in our power to ensure that the Arctic 30 are transported in a humane way.” Why the Arctic 30 are being moved – to St Petersburg, according to persistent rumours – is still unclear. It might take from 24 to 72 hours before it becomes clear which detention centre or centres the Greenpeace International prisoners and freelance journalists have been moved to. There are many pre-trial detention centers in St Petersburg. Ben Ayliffe added: “At the heart of the matter is the simple basic truth that their incarceration is unlawful. These people are neither pirates, nor hooligans, they are innocent. They should be released as soon as possible. Peacefully protesting for the protection of the pristine Arctic is not a crime, it is a great service to mankind."
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