I wasn’t there so I can’t vouch for what really happened, but from reading the news I would think that YES, the Greenpeace activists could and should be charged with multiple violations.
Yes, the photographer/journalist has certain rights (here in the USA- maybe not in Russia!). I think he knew very well what he was getting into. Greenpeace has done this kind of stunt before (and not only on the Disco)!
The Arctic Sunrise violated ALL the rules of maritime traffic. There are 500 meter security zones around drilling operations. Greenpeace surely knew that. The vessel captain and crew absolutely must know that! They’re even marked on the charts! It is illegal for ANYONE to enter that zone without asking and being granted permission from the rig.
The Arctic Sunrise at the very least helped the Greenpeace activists in their attempts to board the Russian rig. That boarding can certainly be seen as piracy. It is of course illegal even if they did not intend to harm anybody or steal anything. It is a dangerous place and could have resulted in a major accident (which of course would have been blamed on the drilling company).
Of course I don’t want to see the Arctic ruined by oil spills either. But I can’t agree with Greenpeaces’ tactics. Either they fight to change the laws so that there will be no Arctic drilling, or they fight to change peoples minds.
The ONLY way we are ever going to not NEED the oil is for people to limit the growth of the human population. Either that, or come up with some miracle energy source that is cheap, efficient and can replace everything we use oil for today. There is nothing even close to oils ability to provide the things we NEED to survive now.