Greenpeace activists face mischief charges after scaling Biosphère

Three Greenpeace activists are facing mischief charges after they scaled the Montreal Biosphère this morning and unfurled a giant banner to protest the treatment in Russia of members of the environmental group.

AndréanneLalonde, Philippe Dumont and David Major were taken into police custody and released on a promise to appear in court.

The date of their court appearance has not been released.

Earlier Wednesday, three people dressed in bright orange jackets and pants attached themselves to the globe-like structure with industrial climbing gear and harnesses.

At about 8:30 a.m. ET, the climbers unfurled the banner that read: "Libérez nos activists — #FreeTheArctic30." In English, it means, "Free our activists, free the Arctic 30."

A Greenpeace spokesperson said the activists are experienced climbers.

Lalonde spoke with CBC's French service Radio-Canada using a cellphone as she rested on top of the domed structure.

“We are here to demand the freedom of all 30 Arctic activists," she said.

“The charges against them are not only illegal, but also very extreme and out of proportion for what they were doing.”

The group is asking federal Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird to get involved in freeing the protesters.

Emergency crews were on the ground, but no rescue efforts were attempted.

CBC's Shari Okeke said one first responder joked "they're better equipped than firefighters."

A group of Greenpeace activists, including Quebecer Alexandre Paul and another Canadian, were detained in September while protesting Arctic oil drilling.

Paul's parents joined the protest at the Biosphère on Wednesday to call for their son's release.

His father, Raymond, said he's worried and stressed: "I only have one son."

Paul is scheduled for a bail hearing Thursday.

Quebec Minister of International Relations Jean-François Lisée said he has been speaking with the Russian Consulate and lobbying on behalf of the protesters.

He said the seven-year sentence that the hooliganism charges could carry is too long.

“These people have been in jail for two months, in isolation, for trying to put a banner on a platform,” Lisée said.

“I feel that the Russians want to make an example."

Six of the jailed foreign Greenpeace activists were granted bail by Russian courts on Tuesday, rulings that lawyers said will allow them to return home pending trial.

The other Canadian, Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ont., was among those cleared for release.

Greenpeace Canada Arctic campaign co-ordinator Christy Ferguson said the battle is far from over.

“Some of the activists have been granted bail, but this does not mean they are free. From a legal perspective, this is only a lull in the storm,” she said.

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