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Isleboro Boat Captain Held in Russian Jail After Protest
09/27/2013   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

An activist from Islesboro is being held in a Russian jail for his role in a Greenpeace protest against Arctic drilling. Peter Willcox is captain of a ship that traveled to the Arctic Sea above Russia to mount a protest on an oil rig. Now, Willcox and the 30-member crew are being detained while Russian authorities determine if the protesters' actions were an act of piracy.

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Greenpeace boat captian Peter Willcox jailed in RussiaEarlier this month Maggy Willcox kissed her husband Peter goodbye when he left for his voyage on the ship Arctic Sunrise. Though she knew he was headed for arctic waters to protest a Russian oil drilling, she said she took a cue on how to feel from her husband, who was calm. But when she found out weeks later he had landed in a Russian jail, she was terrified.

"I um have my Google alert sent to Peter Willcox and Greenpeace and was getting a flood of things from media sources in other countries," Maggy Wilcox said. "And they were talking about piracy charges, which, in Russia, carry a 10 to 15 year sentence. And that was pretty scary."

In the early morning hours of September 18, Greenpeace activists set out in inflatable boats to climb onto an oil platform owned by Russian company Gazprom. The goal was to fly a banner and draw attention to arctic drilling. But the Russian Coast Guard intervened, took over the Arctic Sunrise, and now the entire crew of 30, is in detention for up to two months while Russian authorities investigate. Greenpeace lawyers are trying to release the crew, and Maggy Wilcox said she's in contact with Congressional representatives, the State Department, as well as the US embassy in St. Petersburg.

"This degree of response on the Russian's part came as a surprise," she said.

Willcox said she received word through the embassy that her husband is in good condition, but she didn't feel at ease till she saw a photo of him begin escorted in shackles by Russian guards. Willcox said there's a grin on her husband's face.

"Peter's a person who can't just sit and let things happen," she said. "In order to live with himself, he has to be out there at least making an effort."

Peter Willcox made headlines back in 1985 when he was master of a different Greenpeace ship that was bombed and sunk by French authorities before it set sail to protest the country's nuclear testing.

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