UK
26/10/2013 08:01 BST | Updated 26/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Greenpeace Activist Hangs Off Eiffel Tower In Russia Protest (PICTURES)

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The Eiffel Tower was briefly closed this morning after a Greenpeace activist suspended himself from the French landmark to call for the release of 30 people who have spent more than a month in a Russian jail over a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.

After lowering himself from the second tier of the tower, the man unfurled a large yellow sign saying: "Free the Arctic 30." He was brought down about two hours later by firemen without incident.

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Moscow has sparked an international outcry over its heavy-handed response after two Greenpeace activists in September scaled a state-owned oil platform to protest against Russian energy exploration in the Arctic.

It detained 30 crew members of the Dutch-flagged icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, including two journalists, in the northern Murmansk region.

Original charges of piracy against the group were lessened on Wednesday to hooliganism, which still carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

The group wants French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to press for the group's release when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

The media stunt in Paris accompanies a campaign in the metro, where posters show the activists in a small inflatable boat alongside the massive oil platform.

"They are powerful. We are determined," reads the poster.

Cyrille Cormier, a Greenpeace campaigner, told AFP: "We are here to send a message to the French government to do everything to secure the release of the 28 militants and two journalists."

"Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is due to visit Russia next week. We are asking him to put this case on the agenda," he added.

Greenpeace protests