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Foreign Minister: Possible to negotiate Finnish prison term for Greenpeace activist

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said it might be possible to arrange for Finnish Greenpeace activist Sini Saarela to serve a prison term in Finland, if she receives a jail sentence for piracy. Saarela and other activists were charged with piracy after their Dutch-flagged vessel was detained by Russian authorities during a maritime demonstration protesting arctic oil drilling.

Image: Igor Podgornyi / Greenpeace

Saarela was one of more than a dozen activists charged with piracy by Russian officials in Murmansk Wednesday for their participation in the anti-drilling stunt.

Tuomioja told Yle that he discussed the case with Dutch foreign ministry officials Friday evening, adding that the Russian definition of piracy does not appear to match the proscriptions laid down in international maritime law.

“Russian legislation may be different, but even that cannot contradict the International Law of the Sea Treaty,” Tuomioja noted.

The Netherlands is in a special position in the case, given that the Greenpeace vessel impounded in Russia sailed under the Dutch flag. This gives the Dutch an opening to take the matter to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Tuomioja said that if Finnish activist Sini Saarela is sentenced to a prison term, the government could possibly negotiate with Russia to have her serve her sentence in Finland.

“If such a situation were to arise, this is always a possibility and then it would be a question of negotiation,” Tuomioja added.

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