Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise detained in Spain following oil protest

The Arctic Sunrise. Photo credit: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace

The Ministry of Public Works and Transportation in Spain has detained the Arctic Sunrise, a ship operated by Greenpeace International, while an investigation is completed into the peaceful anti-oil drilling protest, which took place in the waters off Canary Islands this past weekend. The protest was violently stopped by the Spanish Navy – resulting in the injuries of two Greenpeace activists.

“The detention of the Arctic Sunrise violates the rights of all people who strive to defend the environment,” said Mario Rodriguez, director of Greenpeace Spain, in a statement. “It’s telling that the Spanish Government would so quickly support the interests of an oil company, Repsol, against a peaceful environmental organisation which stands alongside millions of people who oppose reckless oil exploration.”

An investigation has been launched by the Spanish government against the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, for an alleged “infringement against marine traffic rules”, which is punishable with a fine of up to €300,000. Pending this investigation, Spanish authorities have ordered the ship to be detained until a €50,000 bond is paid. Fortunately, the captain and crew have not been detained.

In a statement, Greenpeace says they find this response “to a peaceful protest against dangerous oil drilling” to be both “unnecessary and disproportionate.”

This incident is sure to bring up bad memories. Just six months ago, the Arctic Sunrise was released by Russian authorities after a nine month long detention for an attempted protest against a Gazprom oil rig. Two freelance journalists and 28 Greenpeace activists were arrested at gunpoint in the Russian Arctic and had to spend three months in jail before being granted amnesty.


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