The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. Image courtesy of Greenpeace/Flickr.

A Netherlands court has ordered the Russian government to pay compensation for a Greenpeace ship that was seized two years ago during an offshore protest.

The Russian government seized the Arctic Sunrise ship on September 19, 2013 during a protest against Arctic drilling at the Gazprom operated Prirazlomnaya oil platform.

According to Greenpeace, Russian special forces boarded the Netherlands flagged vessel and arrested 30 protestors who spent two months in detention.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), a court that resolves disputes between states, told Reuters that a unanimous decision was made on August 14 but the was not published until Monday.

The court found that Russia breached its legal obligations when it seized the vessel and arrested its crew without the consent of the Netherlands.

The panel of five arbitrators also ruled that the three nautical mile “safety zone” declared by Russia around the platform was not valid or enforceable, Greenpeace said.

The PCA said that the Netherlands is entitled to compensation plus interest for damages and costs.

The compensation amount will be set at another hearing.

Rulings made by the PCA are binding but countries can ask for a correction to an award, AFP said.

“This protest occurred well outside of Russia’s territorial waters and did nothing to satisfy the legal definition of piracy or hooliganism. We hope that this deters other countries from similarly aggressive attempts to stifle dissent, either on land or at sea,” Greenpeace International legal counsel Daniel Simons said.

Russia said it does not recognize the court’s legal authority.

A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry told Reuters that the ruling “in effect, encourages non-peaceful protesting activity in the sea.”

Criminal charges against the protestors were eventually dropped and the ship was released under an amnesty agreement proposed by Russian president Vladimir Putin.


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