11/18/2013 04:39 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Russian Prosecutors Ask To Extend Greenpeace Activists' Detention For Three Months


ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Nov 18 (Reuters) - State prosecutors asked Russian courts on Monday to extend the detention of a group of Greenpeace activists arrested over a protest against Arctic oil drilling, saying they could flee the country if they were released on bail.

The request for three more months detention was filed in courts in St Petersburg, where 28 activists from the environmental group and two journalists are being held in a case that has caused concern abroad.

The 30 were arrested after coastguards boarded the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise following a protest at an oil platform owned by state-controlled Gazprom in the Pechora Sea on Sept. 18.

All 30 have been charged with hooliganism and face up to seven years in prison if convicted over the protest, in which some activists tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya rig. Greenpeace says the protest was peaceful and calls the charges unfounded.

"I have not done anything wrong. I don't understand the reasons why I am being detained," Colin Russell, an Australian who was a technician on the Arctic Sunrise, told a St Petersburg court in one of several hearings scheduled on Monday.

Courts have repeatedly denied bail for all 30 but their current term in custody ends on Nov. 24. (Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)