THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands asked an international tribunal Monday to order Russia to release a Greenpeace protest ship and the activists who were on board.
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the government made the request to the Hamburg, Germany-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
A group of 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists have been held since their ship, the "Arctic Sunrise" was seized by the Russian coast guard after a protest near a Gazprom-owned oil rig on Sept. 18.
The activists are being held in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. They have been charged with piracy, an offense that carries a 15-year sentence in Russia.
Timmermans said the request was a procedural step in an arbitration case the Dutch launched two weeks ago seeking to free the activists and their ship, which sails under the Dutch flag.
He told reporters in Luxembourg "it will come as no surprise to the Russian Federation" that the Dutch have now asked for the tribunal to order the release pending a final decision in the case.
Timmermans said it would likely take about a month for the tribunal to reach a decision on the request.
In a statement, Greenpeace International welcomed the Dutch initiative and called on other governments whose nationals are among the detained activists "to step up their work to ensure the immediate release of the detainees."
The tribunal the Dutch are turning to adjudicates in disputes arising from interpretation and application of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Associated Press writer Raf Casert contributed to this story from Luxembourg.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Police say they had the wrong man, and that Jerome Thagard, who spent four years in prison, didn't murder Steven Northrup in 2009. But the victim's family says otherwise.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
It was so treacherous in North Collins, the mayor had to issue a travel ban, and village snow plows were pulled off the roadways to keep drivers from trying to plow in zero visibility.
The Buffalo School Board unanimously approved plans to transform Burgard High School into a Manufacturing Magnet School on Wednesday,
Investigators are making progress in the case of a Chihuahua thrown in a ditch while zipped up in a Coors Light thermal bag.