UK
29/11/2013 06:46 GMT | Updated 29/11/2013 08:33 GMT

Greenpeace Activist Alex Harris: Russia Sentence Could Mean We Never Have Children

British Greenpeace activist Alex Harris has described the "moment of panic" of her and her fellow campaigners, upon realising that a lengthy sentence in Russia could mean they will never have children.

Originally charged with piracy, the crime carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Harris was one of the "Arctic 30" who attempted to scale an offshore oil rig, owned by Gazprom.

Russian authorities initially charged the group with piracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment.

harris greenpeace

Greenpeace International activist Alexandra Harris of the United Kingdom shows a V-sign after being freed on bail from a jail in St Petersburg

Harris, 27, told the BBC: "The girls and I were chatting one day and saying we can't even have children any more."

All the protesters have now been released on bail, and now face the lesser potential charge of hooliganism which has a maximum penalty of seven years.

It is the same crime used to convict members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot, for their protest in Moscow's cathedral. But Harris said she did not compare herself to the members of the band.

"I never compared myself to Pussy Riot because they were protesting against the Russian regime and we were protesting about oil," she said, when asked if the Greenpeace activists should have taken greater care, because of what happened to Katya Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

Harris said a code, devised by rapping messages on metal pipes, so she could communicate with the other imprisoned activists and journalists, helped her keep her sanity when she was kept in isolation.

"There was a radiator pipe that ran all the way through the prison. So we got out a pen or a spoon and tapped on it," she said.

"One tap was A, two taps was B, and three taps was C. Sometimes it would take 10 minutes to say something and someone would go, 'Please repeat' and you'd go, 'Oh no!'.

"Even though we couldn't see each other, it felt like we were together."