Europe

Russia bails Greenpeace doctor, photographer and activist

  • 18 November 2013
  • From the section Europe

A court in St Petersburg has bailed three Russian nationals who were among 30 arrested during an Arctic protest.

Yekaterina Zaspa served as medical crew on the Greenpeace ship, while Denis Sinyakov is a photographer.

Activist Andrey Allakhverdov also was granted bail late on Monday, according to Greenpeace.

A separate court has extended the pre-trial detention of an Australian activist, Colin Russell, for a further three months.

Bail was set at 2m roubles ($61,000, £38,000) each for Ms Zaspa and Mr Sinyakov.

Image caption Russian photographer Denis Sinyakov has been granted bail, Greenpeace says

'Very difficult'

Six Britons are among those detained.

Relatives of British journalist Kieron Bryon say his lawyer asked for his case to be adjourned until Wednesday.

His father Andy Bryon described the bail application as "very much in the balance".

He said the family found the prospect of another three-month detention "very difficult to accept".

The judge considering the foreigners' cases also heard an application for bail from Brazilian activist Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, but said a decision would be announced on Tuesday at 11:00 local time (07:00 GMT), according to Greenpeace Russia.

The organisation said that the prosecutor had not opposed her bail application.

Further court hearings are expected on Tuesday.

Image caption British journalist Kieron Bryan's lawyer asked for an adjournment, his father says

Prosecutors had originally asked the courts in St Petersburg to keep all 30 detainees in jail beyond 24 November, when their current detention period runs out.

The 30 have been charged with hooliganism over a protest at a Russian oil rig in the Arctic in September. The offence carries a maximum sentence of seven years.

Originally they had been charged with piracy, which carries a longer jail term.

During his hearing, Mr Russell told the judge: "I haven't done anything wrong.

"I don't understand the reasons why I've been detained. I've done two months' hard time for nothing."

Last week the 30 were moved to prisons in St Petersburg from Murmansk in the Arctic.

'Case is a circus'

Greenpeace denies any wrongdoing and is urging Russia to release the detainees - who come from 18 countries - and their ship, Arctic Sunrise.

If Russia keeps the activists in jail for another three months they will remain there during the February 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by Russia in Sochi.

The environmental group's international executive director, Kumi Naidoo, condemned the judge's ruling against Mr Russell, saying "this case is now a circus".

"Our friends may now be in jail for months longer, all because they made a stand for all of us in the pristine Arctic. We will continue to pursue every legal avenue we can, and leave no stone unturned, until each and every one of them is home with their families," he said.

"We hope the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will order their release when they adjudicate on Friday."

Russia is not attending the UN tribunal hearing in Hamburg, as it is not party to some UN Law of the Sea dispute procedures.

The father of one of the British activists being held has said that his daughter had told the family in letters that she was "pretty scared".

"She is desperate to see us - we are making plans and applying for visas," said Cliff Harris of his daughter Alex.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has urged Russia's President Vladimir Putin to intervene and ensure that the Greenpeace 30 are released and sent home.

Image caption The Greenpeace ship was protesting against Arctic oil exploration

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