US boat to Gaza flotilla 'Audacity of Hope' 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/John Kolesidis)
Activists intending to participate in the flotilla to Gaza on-board the US-flagged ship The Audacity of Hope announced an open-ended hunger strike, aimed at pressuring the US government to allow the ship to set sail to the Strip, organizers said in a press release Sunday.
Eight of the passengers, including Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and former CIA official Ray McGovern, were listed as those participated in the hunger strike.
Additionally, the group said it would be holding a protest in front of
the US embassy in Athens to publicly make their call to the US
government. "We call on officials at the US embassy in Athens to
publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the Greek
government to free our ship and its captain immediately," American
activist and hopeful flotilla passenger Kathy Kelly said in the
The statement added that US Deputy Consul General Kate Brandeis in
Athens told the activists they "had a right to sail to Gaza" in a June
24 meeting. It lamented that the embassy has not assisted the captain of
the boat, a US citizen, who remains in Greek custody.
The US-flagged ship attempted to sail from a Greek port on Friday in
defiance of a Greek government order banning ships departing for the
coastal strip. Stopped and escorted back into port by the Helenic Coast
Guard, the ship's captain was arrested for defying the order against
leaving port.Herb Keinon and Reuters contributed to this report