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Connecticut man jailed in Russia is allowed to speak to his wife

NORWALK, Conn. A Connecticut man arrested last month by Russian authorities during a Greenpeace protest in the Arctic sounds "strong and positive," his wife said Monday after speaking to him for the first time since he was taken into custody.

Maggy Willcox spoke briefly with her husband, Peter, on Monday morning, she told The Hour newspaper.

"He sounds strong and positive and he said the people around him were treating him well," she said.

Peter Willcox is captain of the Greenpeace vessel "Arctic Sunrise." He and other activists were arrested by the Russian Coast Guard Sept. 18 after a protest during which several tried to scale a Russian offshore oil platform that's the first offshore rig in the Arctic.

A group of 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists are now being held in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. They have been charged with piracy, an offense that carries a 15-year sentence in Russia.

Maggy Willcox said during the three to four minute call, her husband reported doing pushups and yoga in his prison cell.

"He's a vegetarian. He said he's been straining meat out of everything, so he's lost weight, which he's pleased about," she said.

She said he sounded so upbeat, it "put a little starch in our own backbone."

The Greenpeace vessel is registered in the Netherlands, which on Monday asked the Germany-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to order Russia to release the ship and activists.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the tribunal would likely take a month to reach a decision on the request.

"That's what we're pinning our hopes on at this point," Maggy Willcox said.