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Russia mulls new charges against Greenpeace

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian investigators say they're considering fresh charges against Greenpeace activists who were detained last month for an Arctic protest.

The 29 Greenpeace activists and a freelance Russian journalist have been charged with piracy after their September protest at an oil platform. The charge carries a sentence up to 15 years.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said Wednesday that "dual-use equipment" and drugs were found on the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise.

Markin said that the committee was expecting to charge several activists with more "grave crimes" once they have established their role in the protest. He said that investigators are trying to identify the people whose inflated boats were standing in the way of Russian coast guards, thus "threatening life and safety of an official," a grave offense in Russia.

The head of Greenpeace International has written to Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting a meeting in Moscow — and offering himself as human bail for the detainees.

Kumi Naidoo of the Amsterdam-based organization delivered the letter to the Russian embassy in The Hague on Wednesday. He said he would guarantee the activists' good conduct but said that piracy charges don't make sense and should be dropped.

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 outside a Gazprom-owned oil rig Sept. 18.