Writing for Novaya Gazeta (Russian-language link), Yulia Latynina makes a scathing attack on Greenpeace. But her comments about the arrest of Greenpeace activists in Miami in April 2002 are extremely misleading.
Greenpeace carefully chooses the places where it stages its attacks. No one has heard about Greenpeace in the Persian Gulf or China. Moreover, there is another country where the Greenpeace is not doesn’t dare to provoke legal action very often. This country is called the United States.
The fact is, the United States is a country which is very serious about private property. And while the activists of Greenpeace in Australia got probation for their destruction of genetically modified crops have received probation, in the United States for the same offense a girl named Mary Mason got ten months in prison.
The last time Greenpeace took action in U.S. waters was on a ship in 2003. The ship was carrying mahogany from Brazil. After that, they were all arrested, and the U.S. government filed charges against the Greenpeace. Charges against the organization as a whole.
The law chosen to support the charges by the American prosecutor is very interesting. They were able to find the old law from the 19th Century century, a law which prohibits unauthorized boarding of a vessel by salesmen.
Latynina leaves out quite a few facts from her discussion.
In regard to the Brazilian mahogany protest and arrest in Miami, Greenpeace reports on its website: “The atmosphere was calm and friendly, and the Coast Guard officers permitted the Greenpeace crew to order pizza (although they declined offers to share a slice).” After that, Greenpeace got a tip from inside the U.S. government about the intentions of the ship’s captain, and was able to get him fired before the ship could offload most of its cargo, which was then impounded. The Greenpeace team was given bail, and then when they appeared in court “after the prosecution had rested its case, Greenpeace lawyers filed a motion for a judgement of acquittal. After a short deliberation Judge Jordan granted the motion, acquitting Greenpeace of all federal charges.” Latynina doesn’t give the correct date for the arrest, which was 2002 not 2003. The trial was in 2003.
U.S. government action against Greenpeace in Miami differs markedly from the Russian government’s action against Greenpeace in Murmansk. In Miami, only 14 Greenpeace activists who actually boarded inflatable boats and actually approached the vessel were arrested. In Murmansk, the Kremlin also boarded the Greenpeace mother ship and arrested those who never approached the vessel, taking 30 activists in total. In Miami, the ship in question was in U.S. waters, not international waters like the Russian oil rig that was approached in Murmansk, In Miami the arrest environment was totally different from that in Murmansk, and ultimately all charges against the activists were thrown out. Part of the U.S. government actually assisted Greenpeace, and the organization achieved its goal of blocking the delivery of protected timber. No such things happened in Russia.
In regard to Mary Mason, she was even not a member of Greenpeace at all, but rather was a member of the Earth Liberation Front. Mason is currently serving two decades in prison for numerous acts of arson to which she admitted and which caused millions of dollars in damages. Mason has apologized for the terror her actions caused among her victims. It’s impossible to know what incident in Australia Latynina is referring to since she gives so few details about it, but typically actions by Greenpeace involving modified food don’t involve any property damage whatsoever.