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Bail Denied to 2 More Arctic Sunrise Detainees

Dutch Greenpeace activist Faiza Oulahsen attends a bail hearing at the Murmansk Regional Court on Friday. Dmitri Sharomov

A Russian court in Murmansk denied bail Friday to a Canadian deckhand and a British Greenpeace worker from the crew of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, who were imprisoned by Russian border guards in September, Greenpeace said on its Twitter account.

Alexandre Paul, 36, and Alex Harris, 27, are the latest in a string of crew members and activists facing piracy charges in Russia to have been denied bail.

"The judge in Paul's case has rejected the request," the environmental group said.

During the hearing, Paul denied the charges against him saying: "I am not a criminal, I'm proud of working for Greenpeace and have never been detained before. I have always cooperated with the judicial bodies."

When the court turned down an appeal for bail by Harris, her defense lawyer said: "Does this young girl really look like a pirate to you?"

The same Murmansk region court also denied Australian radio operator Colin Russell bail Thursday and ordered him to remain in custody until Nov. 24. Russell joined nationals of France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and four other countries previously denied bail as they await trial on piracy charges.

Meanwhile, unidentified people in masks tried to disrupt a protest staged near the court in Murmansk Friday in support of the Arctic Sunrise crew members, local media reports said. The attackers also reportedly stole a cage in which the Greenpeace activists had planned to hold their protest.

The icebreaker Arctic Sunrise was seized by Russian border guards in mid-September after Greenpeace environmental activists tried to scale an Arctic oil platform run by an affiliate of state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, in protest at offshore drilling in the area.

The group of 30 currently in detention, which includes two freelance journalists, could face up to 15 years in jail.

The group has collected almost 1.5 million signatures for a petition to free the Arctic Sunrise crew, Greenpeace Arctic program coordinator Yevgeniya Belyakova, said Friday.

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