Paul McCartney Asks Putin to Release Greenpeace Prisoners

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 06:37 PM

By David Ogul

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Rock 'n' roll legend and former Beatle Paul McCartney is asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to release 28 protesters and two journalists who were seized aboard a Greenpeace ship.

Saying, “I hope you will not object to me bringing up their case,” McCartney wrote: “I hear from my Russian friends that the protesters are being portrayed in some quarters as being anti-Russian, that they were doing the bidding of Western governments, and that they threatened the safety of the people working on that Arctic oil platform,” according to the letter that was posted on McCartney’s website.

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“I am writing to assure you that the Greenpeace I know is most certainly not an anti-Russian organization. In my experience they tend to annoy every government! And they never take money from any government or corporation anywhere in the world.

“And above all else they are peaceful. In my experience, nonviolence is an essential part of who they are.”

Russian authorities arrested the group in September after several of them tried to scale an offshore Arctic rig owned by state energy firm OAO Gazprom.

They initially were charged with piracy and hooliganism. The piracy charges have been dropped, but the detainees still face up to 30 years in prison. Rolling Stone said the group was recently transferred to prisons in St. Petersburg.

The Wall Street Journal noted this isn’t the first time the ex-Beatle has tried to influence Russian authorities whom he believed wrongly jailed high-profile prisoners. He wrote a letter to a Russian judge in May asking him to release members of Pussy Riot, a female punk band that performed an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral.

McCartney has yet to receive a response to his Greenpeace letter. The Wall Street Journal said a Putin spokesman was quoted in the Russian press as saying that the leader cannot interfere in court matters.

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