Captain of Greenpeace Ship Describes Fear in Russian Jail
In September, 30 Greenpeace activists were arrested and detained on piracy charges, and their ship was seized by the Russian Coast Guard.
The piracy charges have since been dropped, but the activists still face hooliganism charges, which carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
After spending a terrifying two months in prison, all but one of the activists were released last week on bail.
“The hardest thing was the uncertainty, the anxiety, the damn fear,” Peter Willcox, the ship’s captain, told The Associated Press. “Everybody lost weight during the first three weeks, and not because of food, but because of stress.”
The initial charge of piracy carried a hefty 15-year sentence.
“That changes my life, that changes anybody’s life,” said the 60-year-old captain. He began to think the worst.
“I won’t see my mother and father again,” he thought. “They are not going to live another 10 or 15 years. My children will be grown up with children of their own.”
The time he spent in jail was particularly hard for Willcox because he suffers from claustrophobia.
“The cell door slams and you can hear the echo of the door going up and down the hall way,” he said. “Then you hear clang, clang, clang. And you’re in there. Then your cell mate starts smoking and I feel my heart beating hard.”
Despite the horrible ordeal, Willcox said the mission was worth it.
“Look at how many more people in the world are aware of the drilling in the Arctic now as opposed to two months ago,” he said.