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International law: Dutch take legal action against Russia over Greenpeace imprisonments

The Dutch Government has launched a legal action against the Russian decision to imprison 30 Greenpeace activists for piracy, reports the BBC.

The 30 activists were arrested last month after attempting to board an oil rig in the Arctic owned by the Russian state-controlled company, Gazprom.

The activists include two Dutch citizens, along with individuals from Britain, France, Canada and New Zealand.

The BBC reports that the Dutch Government has applied to the UN's Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, a Hamburg-based court that solves maritime disputes between nations.

Under the law of the UN tribunal, the Dutch can apply for the immediate release of the vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, and all of its crew.

"I really want to consult with my Russian colleagues... to get these people freed as soon as possible," the Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans told the Associated Press.

Greenpeace have called the piracy charges 'extreme and disproportionate', whilst the Dutch described them as 'irrational, absurd and outrageous'.

Meanwhile, the Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted that the action of the activists was not piracy, but said that they had all broken international law.

On Friday last week the family members of the six British citizens involved in the dispute protested in London and Bristol to show their solidarity with the Greenpeace prisoners.

Iain Rogers, 37, an engineer from Exeter, Kieron Bryan, a videographer, and Alex Harris, 27, a communications worker, were all involved in the incident and are now being held in Russia, alongside fellow Britons Frank Hewetson from London, Anthony Perrett from Newport and Phillip Ball of Chipping Norton.

The maximum charge the 30 could face is 15 years in prison.