Friday, 22 November 2013

Kieron freed on bail, ITLOS rules Arctic Sunrise and crew should be released

Today, November 22nd, Kieron was freed on bail from the St Petersburg detention centre, 64 days after the Arctic Sunrise was first seized.

On November 14th, not long after the Arctic 30 had been moved to St Petersburg, Sir Paul McCartney wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin asking for their release.

"Vladimir, millions of people in dozens of countries would be hugely grateful if you were to intervene to bring about an end to this affair. I understand of course that the Russian courts and the Russian Presidency are separate. Nevertheless I wonder if you may be able to use whatever influence you have to reunite the detainees with their families?"

Back in Kieron's homeland of Devon, the staff of Shebbear College, the school Kieron attended in the village in which he grew up, put on a Murder Mystery play on Friday 15th November. I can personally attest to the success of the event. It was very entertaining as well as raising funds for the campaign.

On Monday 18th November, the first round of detentions hearings began. Australian Colin Russell was the first to appear. He was denied bail, and his detention was extended until Februrary.

"Russell’s detention was extended until 24 February after the bail hearing on Monday.

“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. I've done nothing wrong,” he reportedly said in court after the decision was read out."

All previous court hearings had resulted in the same treatment for all thirty detainees. This was not a good sign. Kieron's hearing was also on Monday; unlike Colin Russell, however, no decision was reached as the hearing was adjourned due to Kieron  and his legal team being unhappy with the appointed translator.

"A bail hearing for jailed journalist Kieron Bryan has been adjourned until Wednesday after problems with a translator at the court in St Petersburg earlier today."

As you can see from this picture from the courtroom on Monday, Kieron has been reunited with his glasses, thanks to his legal team.

The three Russian detainees of course had no such translation problem, and developments in their hearings were certainly encouraging.

"A Russian court has granted bail to three Greenpeace crew members – a doctor, a freelance photographer, and a press officer – all detained since September 24 over the protest at an oil rig in the Barents Sea."

"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"."

This Telegraph article includes a picture of Kieron in the cage:

On Tuesday, all of those appearing in court were granted bail.

"A Russian court has granted bail to another seven Greenpeace activists involved in the Arctic oil rig protest.

They are the first foreigners to be become eligible for release from jail while awaiting trial over the action.

It comes after three Russian nationals were freed on Monday."

Before Kieron's hearing on Wednesday, the first of the Arctic 30 left prison on bail.

"A Greenpeace activist was released on bail from a Russian detention facility Wednesday, taking her first steps out of jail since she and a group of fellow campaigners were detained during an Arctic Sea protest almost nine weeks ago."

As we were waiting for Kieron's hearing, some more of the activists were also granted bail.

Some video of Kieron's statements as part of the hearing were released by Greenpeace:

Finally, the decision came. Kieron was granted bail by the court. Immediately after the decision, Sky News were able to talk to him from the cage to get his immediate reaction:

"The first smile I've had for a while."

This decision kicked off another round of the Bryan family's media appearances.


Channel 4:


Kieron's UK lawyer, Robert Brown, also got a mention in the Times (paywall):

More activists were in court on Thursday, and all were granted bail. Kieron's lawyers were hoping to get him freed on Thursday, but were this was not possible due to a technicality.

"Bryan, who was granted bail on Wednesday, was expected to emerge from Pre-Trial Detention Centre No 4 early on Thursday evening, but at the last minute his release was delayed on a technicality. His lawyers said that he was now being "illegally detained" as all the documents were in order, but he was expected to be set free on Friday.

Greenpeace said in a statement that those released on bail had been given their passports back, and would now stay at a "safe place in St Petersburg". Despite not having valid Russian visas, the bailed activists have been given special registration cards that allow them to remain in Russia legally."

Also on Thursday, a Murmansk court rejected the appeal to release the Arctic Sunrise ship back into Greenpeace custody.

"The Murmansk Regional Court has today rejected an appeal against the arrest of the ship Arctic Sunrise by Russian authorities.
"This is an extremely disappointing ruling. We believe this verdict is in violation of both the Russian Criminal Procedure Code and international law. Cassation procedures are now available under Russian law," said Gerrit-Jan Bolderman, Director of Stichting Phoenix, the ship’s owner."

Finally, on Friday morning, Kieron was released. Sky News captured the event on video, including the moment when one misinformed reporter calls him Anthony:

"It's good to be outside and see the sky for the first time for a while. To everyone who's supported me and the rest of the group: Keep fighting, we're not free yet, this is first step. It's a glimmer of justice, but it's not finished."

"He said being imprisoned had been "tough" and that he was looking forward to "a long shower", "never doing another Sudoku puzzle again" and "an improved diet"."

The exact conditions of Kieron's bail have not been released, but it seems he is able to roam St Petersburg, and freely communicate with family and friends.

Meanwhile, Colin Russell, the only one of the thirty to be denied bail, is expecting to be freed within a month.

"“He [Russell] is now reasonably confident that there has been a change in strategy by the prosecutors and he’ll be freed on bail,” Myler told the Guardian. “This is the feeling we got as well from our conversations across town with prosecutors and the Investigative Committee. All the signals we are getting are that Colin will get the same treatment as everyone else.”"

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has been speaking about the Arctic Sunrise case, again emphasizing the separation of the executive and judiciary, but also calling Greenpeace's work 'noble':

""I’d like to assure you that the Russian political leadership has no desire to specially interfere in this process. There are certain legal procedures. We cannot interfere in the legal aspect of this case," Vladimir Putin said on Friday at a press conference following his meeting with Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Erdogan."

"In reference to the Greenpeace environmentalists, he said: "Are they doing noble work? Yes, it is noble. Did they do the right thing when they climbed the platform? No, it was wrong".
The President emphasized that the state should not be cruel but it must ensure that everyone complied with certain rules. Vladimir Putin also admitted that the state should be lenient."

Also on Friday, the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea reached a conclusion.

"The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea delivered its Order today in the “Arctic Sunrise” case (Kingdom of the Netherlands v. Russian Federation). It ordered that the vessel Arctic Sunrise and all persons detained in connection with the dispute be released and allowed to leave the territory and maritime areas under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation upon the posting of a bond in the amount of 3.6 million euros. "

"The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea today ordered the Russian Federation in a binding ruling to release the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and the 28 activists and two freelance journalists on board upon payment of a EUR 3.6 million bond."

This is a hugely positive development, however Russia has previously indicated that it does not consider the tribunal's decisions to be binding, as it opted out of certain clauses of the UNCLOS. The decision not to appear at the hearing in Hamburg was based on this objection. However, this is not necessarily legitimate (, and, regardless, the fact that a United Nations tribunal has ruled against Russia has enormous international significance.

It's great to see Kieron out of prison, but remember the charges still stand, and, if convicted, he could face a prison sentence. He is only released on bail, with conditions attached. This is not over yet. Let's keep fighting to completely Free Kieron.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Kieron moved to St Petersburg

It has been confirmed that Kieron and the rest of the Arctic 30 have been moved from Murmansk to St Petersburg.

Telegraph correspondent Roland Oliphant posted this story on Tuesday:

"Twenty-eight Greenpeace activists and two journalists jailed in Russia have arrived in three separate jails in St Petersburg, the Telegraph has learnt.
The prison train believed to be carrying the group pulled into St Petersburg's Ladozhsky railway station just after midday after a gruelling 27 hour journey from Murmansk on Tuesday afternoon."

The BBC article includes details of the motivation behind this.

"On Monday, investigators said the move meant the detainees were closer to the appropriate court."

Greenpeace's press release mentions the quarantine process that is commonplace during Russian prison transfers. It also discusses the upcoming deadline for the application of extension to the pre-trial detention period - this is currently due to expire on November 24th.

"After a prison transfer it is routine procedure in Russia that detainees are quarantined for infectious diseases. This may be a relatively short period, but lawyers will not have access to the detainees during this period.

On November 24, the two-month detention period imposed on the Arctic 30 by the Leninsky District Court of Murmansk comes to an end. If Russia’s Investigative Committee wishes to extend this period it must make an application to the relevant District Court in St. Petersburg no later than one week in advance (November 17)."

Other media outlets covered the story. This Euronews piece includes an interview with a Greenpeace Russia spokesman:

This piece from Russian state news agency RIA Novosti states that the charges have been downgraded to hooliganism, despite official confirmation of this.

The exact status of the charges remains a point of confusion. For the moment we understand that all of the thirty remain charged with both piracy and hooliganism. Last week the head of the Investigative Committee stated that some of the thirty would have additional charges of resisting arrest placed against them. This was reported in the Moscow Times:

"Russian prosecutors will level further charges of resisting arrest against several of the 30 people detained following a Greenpeace protest at an Arctic oil rig, the Investigative Committee said.

"Along with indictments for hooliganim, several of the intruders will be charged with resisting law enforcement officers," spokesman Vladimir Markin told in an interview Thursday."

Markin also said that the reason all thirty had been charged equally was that they had refused to co-operate with the investigation:

""They all refused to speak. Therefore investigators were forced to assess their actions on the basis of available evidence," Markin said.

It was for this same reason that the journalists and ship cook were charged with the same crimes as the activists, he added.

"If at the first stage of the investigation a photographer or cook had testified, for example, 'I was sitting near my pot and stewing a Russian borshch for our foreign guests,' then everything would have been clear," Markin said."

Kieron has been moved to Sizo 4 in St Petersburg, as this tweet from Greenpeace confirms.

No photographs of video of any of the Arctic 30 during the prison transfer have been released. This set on flickr from Greenpeace shows some of the prison vans involved, and the 'Kresty' dentention centre (Sizo 1).

Before this news of the move broke, Russell appeared on Channel Five News:

The families of the British detainees met with David Lidington MP, Minister for Europe, as this Guardian article reports:

"Clifford Harris, whose daughter Alexandra is also in the captive group, said: "Behind the scenes things are happening. Maybe not as fast as some people would like but it is a ball that is rolling.""

Free Kieron events coming up include:

Last weekend's Free Kieron benefit gig raised £1200. Thanks to everyone involved in organizing and running these events. Let's keep fighting to Free Kieron.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

ITLOS hearing, piracy charges possibly not dropped, potential move to St Petersburg, video of boarding

The silent protest went ahead last weekend at the Russian Embassy. The journalists' petition was handed in, containing over 1,400 names including those of many major newspaper editors.

Photo: Roo Lewis.

The BBC have an article and video:

It appears that the piracy charges against Kieron and the rest of the Arctic 30 have not yet been formally dropped.

"But Greenpeace spokesman Reece Turner says the activists appeared before the committee this week and the piracy charges remain.

"All 30 of the Arctic 30, including Australian Colin Russell, are currently charged with piracy and hooliganism," he said."

Hopefully this is simply be a procedural holdup.

In the Sunday Times on the 3rd November, this leading article points out that this case risks tarnishing Russia's image at a time when the country will increasingly be under the spotlight.

The Guardian on Monday carried an article by Judith Pallot, professor of the human geography of Russia at the University of Oxford. It contains some horrifying reading about the sizos, or remand prisons.

"The foreign prisoners have each been allocated a metal bunk in a small cell occupied by four or five other prisoners, in which there is a washbasin, a cold-water tap, a tepid radiator, a toilet only partly concealed by a low partition, and a table and bench screwed to the floor next to the toilet. This is where they spend 23 hours of the day, where they eat, wash and defecate in close proximity to one another."

Sky News also managed to obtain some video from inside the prison in Murmansk.

"We managed to get rare access inside the prison in Murmansk to speak to the governor and raise the detainees' concerns.

In response to a series of questions, he laughed and said: "In Great Britain your prisons are soft.""

There is a possibility that Kieron will not have to suffer a Murmansk winter, as there are rumblings of the prisoners being moved to St Petersburg. This article in the Independent is more cautiously worded than some others, which imply that the 30 have already been moved. 

"Russia is preparing to move 30 Greenpeace activists arrested over a protest against Arctic drilling from the far-north city of Murmansk to St. Petersburg, the environmental group said on Friday."

The timing or reason for this move have not been confirmed. It is certainly warmer in St Petersburg, given that is 1000 kilometres south of Murmansk. 

The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea heard the 'Arctic Sunrise' case this week. Russia did not attend, as they claim to have not signed the relevant part of the treaty. The full text of the hearing can be found here 

"The Kingdom of the Netherlands requests the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea with respect to the dispute concerning the Arctic Sunrise ... to order, by means of provisional measures, the Russian Federation: 

to immediately enable the Arctic Sunrise to be resupplied, to leave its place of detention and the maritime areas under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation and to exercise the freedom of navigation; 

e) to immediately release the crew members of the Arctic Sunrise, and allow them to leave the territory and maritime areas under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation."

Greenpeace statement:

"The Russian Federation did not attend today's hearing and the sitting was closed following the presentation of the Dutch government's oral argumentation. The Netherlands will now lodge written answers to the Tribunal’s questions by the end of Thursday November 7. The presiding judge set a tentative date of Friday November 22 for the Tribunal's provisional order."

At the moment it would appear that if the Tribunal orders Russia to release the ship and the thirty people who were aboard, they have no way of actually enforcing this. However it would be a hugely positive outcome if the tribunal rules in favour of the Dutch.

The Telegraph covered the story here:

"The ITLOS is a UN court, based in Hamburg. Founded in 1982, its decisions are binding – but it has no means of enforcing them."

British Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation. The BBC report here also contains an audio clip of an interview with Andy.

"Mr Cameron said he spoke to the Russian leader earlier this week about the situation.

"Their charges have been dropped from piracy to hooliganism, but I still think that is excessive. They are not hooligans, they are protesters," Mr Cameron told BBC Radio Devon."

Kieron's elected representatives in London continue to support him. The London Assembly passed a motion demanding his release.

"The London Assembly today demanded the Russian government release journalist and London resident Kieron Bryan who has been imprisoned in Murmansk for 7 weeks."

Harriet Harman, Kieron's MP, along with Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge, met with the Russian Ambassador to discuss the situation. 

"Constructive 1 & half hr mtg at @RussianEmbassy w/ Ambassador @Amb_Yakovenko & @Geoffrey_Cox re @FreeKieron Bryan"

Harriet Harman also wrote a column about the issue:

"It is hard to know how much information Kieron is able to get as he faces a winter in a prison cell in Murmansk so many thousands of miles away. But I have written to him to let him know that as his MP, I am doing everything I can to bring his plight to the attention of the Government and put pressure on the Russian authorities. His family will leave no stone unturned until he is back with them and I will do everything I can to make that happen."

Thank you to Harriet for her continued support and hard work to help Free Kieron.

The Russian Embassy, perhaps in response to Harriet Harman's meeting, published a document clarifying the Russian position:

"5. Why the Arctic Sunrise was detained?
The vessel was detained in the Exclusive economic zone of Russia after members of its team entered without permit the 3 mile security zone around the rig, which has special security requirements and is closed for any unauthorised navigation or access, and attempted to disembark unlawfully onto the Prirazlomnaya. Thus, the Arctic Sunrise was used as a definite means to commit the offence."

This three mile security zone has no basis in international law. 

Kieron's main route of communication with the outside world are his letters. Extracts of some of them have been published. This Greenpeace tumblr site contains full versions of letters from the 30:

"The hardest moment was the first night in prison – none of us knew where we were or what conditions the detention held, or whether we would be separated, left to navigate the unknown alone. Being shown to my cell and introduced to a couple of strangers was frightening, to say the least."

This Greenpeace video uses actors to narrate some of the letters, including Kieron's.

Greenpeace released video of the boarding of the Arctic Sunrise:

Kieron can be seen filming the events. Only a journalist would be filming when armed men are descending from a helicopter. 

Events to support Kieron's cause continue to be arranged. Tonight's Free Kieron benefit gig has comedy and music on the bill.

There is a Murder Mystery staff play at Shebbear College on Friday 15th November, and a dinner and dance at Tommy Jack's in Bude on Friday 22nd November.

It has now been over fifty days that Kieron has been impronised. Free Kieron.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Charges reduced to hooliganism, MPs debate, Kieron writes again, Journalists' Silent protest planned

On Wednesday 23rd October the charges against the 'Arctic 30' were reduced from piracy to hooliganism. The official statement from the Russian Investigative Committee can be found here:

"And today the investigators have decided to reclassify the charges for part 2 of article 213 of the RF Penal Code (hooliganism, which is gross violation of public order, expressing obvious disrespect to society, committed using the objects, used as weapons, by an organized group and accompanied by resistance to a representative of the authorities)."

The BBC covered the story:

Greenpeace responded in a typically belligerent fashion:

"In response, Ben Ayliffe at Greenpeace International said:

"The Arctic 30 are innocent of all charges. There can be no justification for locking them up in a cell in Murmansk. This was an entirely peaceful protest in international waters to shine a light on Gazprom's reckless Arctic oil drilling plans. Eleven warning shots were fired across the Arctic Sunrise, bullets were fired into the water next to the protesters, they were threatened with guns and knives and detained on trumped up charges to defend Gazprom’s oil interests. Who are the real hooligans here?”"

Coverage from Russia's state news service, RIA:

"Markin of Russia’s Investigative Committee also said some members of the group could face charges of using force against state officials.
He said the Greenpeace group’s lack of cooperation with investigators had unnecessarily drawn out the process.
“The failure of the accused to give evidence gave cause for investigators to carefully consider all alternative versions of what took place,” Markin said."

Amnesty International commented on the development:

"The provision is vague and open to abuse, and Amnesty International believes it should not be applied in this case.

“This Russian roulette of criminal charges must stop. The Arctic 30 activists must be released immediately and the Russian authorities must halt their ill-founded attempts to criminally prosecute them,” said Dalhuisen."

This statement also points out that the two of the members of protest punk band 'Pussy Riot' were convicted of hooliganism and are serving two-year prison sentences. Amnesty International considers them 'prisoners of conscience'. However, according to the Russian Criminal Code, hooliganism has a much greater range of possible sentences than piracy.

Early on Wednesday, MPs had debated the situation in Westminster Hall. Many MPs were in attendance, and made some strong statements encouraging the Prime Minister to involve himself more in the issue. Video can be found here:

A transcript can be found here:

The MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw, replied to Foreign Office Minister David Lidington's confirmation that David Cameron had not personally spoken to President Putin:

"Is the Minister saying that the Prime Minister has not picked up the phone to President Putin, as Chancellor Merkel has? That is outrageous."

Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, said this:

"Kieron Bryan is 29. He was a videographer on the Arctic Sunrise. He was nominated for an award. He is a talented, young and idealistic man. He was not there to break the law; he was on board the ship merely to record what happened and to keep a record."

Harriet Harman, Kieron's MP, gave us additional insight into the conditions that Kieron is currently experiencing.

"Regarding his access to the outside world, I understand that his letters are brought in and he is allowed to read them, but then they are taken away. So he cannot even keep his letters and see what his friends and family are writing to him. He has only been allowed one book and he has now finished that. He was allowed one phone call to his family when he was on the way to detention. Since then, he has only had access to the phone last weekend, which is not acceptable."

The Russian Ambassador met with MPs in the afternoon. He was doorstepped by ITV News, but refused  to comment on the ongoing legal process. In this report Russell also gives his reaction to the new charges.

Also on Wednesday, Russia announced that it would boycott the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea hearing.

"“The Russian side has informed the Netherlands and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea that it does not accept the arbitration procedure in the Arctic Sunrise case, and is not planning to take part in the tribunals,” the ministry said in a statement Wednesday, adding that Moscow is still “open to the settlement” of the case. The statement did not elaborate."

"When Russia ratified the convention in 1997, it submitted an accompanying statement saying it would not accept procedures that led to the tribunal making binding decisions concerning national sovereignty, the ministry said."

This post on law blog Opinon Juris mentions that China has recently responded similarly to a UNCLOS dispute.

"If Russia does simply walk away, this is another body blow to the dispute settlement under the UNCLOS system, especially considering that Russia has accepted the jurisdiction of the ITLOS in past disputes."

It is worth noting that the United States has not ratified, or even signed, this convention.

Regardless of Russia's position, a positive outcome in this hearing will add to the growing international pressure.

Today (Sunday 27th October), a letter from Kieron was published in the Sunday Times.

The BBC report:

Again, it's tough to read. It's clear that the possibility of a prison sentence weighs heavy on his mind. The poor quality (and dubious composition) of the food is discussed in some detail. It is not clear if this letter was written before the reduction of the charges, but given the lead time on communication so far, it would seem likely.

In The Indenpendent, a letter from one of Kieron's fellow British detainees, Frank Hewetson, was published on Saturday:

"Lunch/abyet, 13:00 Potato is in there somewhere. The trick is to sieve out the suspected meat particles and positive ID them before consumption. It is often quite wise not to consume them.

Dinner/oozhin, 19:00 Potato makes a comeback on most evenings, indeed lunch makes a comeback on some evenings, but that’s quite often well before 19:00. If one gets extra boiled water and uses bread, dinner can actually be quite palatable."

On Saturday 2nd November, there will be a silent protest by journalists outside the Russian Embassy. Trade publication Press Gazette:
"Kieron’s brother, Russell has thanked the 1,200 journalists for signing the petition and asked them to step up the protest.

“We are writing to invite you to join a show of solidarity for Kieron - a silent protest by his fellow journalists, between 12 noon and 2pm, on Saturday 2nd November, outside the Russian Embassy, W8 4PQ."

Please encourage any journalists you know to attend this.

This prickly interview on Russia Today with Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo shows how the feeling in Russia is quite different in certain circles:

The debate on Twitter between the interviewer, Oksana Boyto, and BBC correspondent Daniel Sandford, is quite interesting:

"Why," @OksanaBoyko_RT asked "do you have so little regard for the legal system in this country?" Not a good question to ask"

Jess has created these images which you may wish to use on social networks as a profile picture, or anywhere you like.

Kieron is no more a hooligan than a pirate. He has been imprisoned without trial for over a month now. Whilst the latest development is a positive step, it's still a long way from Kieron being out of prison. Free Kieron.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Kieron phones home, Early Day Motion, Dutch lodge appeal with ITLOS, Break-in at Greenpeace

Today there was finally some pleasant news. Kieron has been able to talk to his family and his girlfriend last weekend. The Guardian had the story:

""When he finally called on Saturday it was like all my Christmases had come at once," said his mother, Ann Bryan.

"Kieron sounded strong and calm, and told me he was trying to stay positive, though that was sometimes hard due to his not being able to communicate regularly with other people.

"He found the hardest things to cope with were the uncertainty of his future and occupying his time in his cell.

To keep himself busy, she said, Bryan was writing – "letters, thoughts, anything that comes into his mind" – and reading. "He's now finished the only book he has been able to get hold of so far, Jane Eyre, and said he would very much like some more.""

Personally I am looking forward to the publication of a impassioned essay, in the vein of Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

We learn from Nancy that Kieron has maintained his indefatigable sense of humour.

""At one point, I had my back to the car and my shoulders were shaking – my mum thought I was crying, but Kieron was trying to cheer me up, and was telling me things to make me laugh.""

Sounds like Kieron to me.

Kieron's MP Harriet Harman has continued to advance the cause in Parliament. She has tabled Early Day Motion 600 calling for his release. Details will be found here, once the Parliamentary website is updated:

Please encourage your MP to sign the EDM, as well as attend the debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday at 9:30 am. You can easily contact your MP through

The government of the Netherlands has advanced the legal action they began against Russia to secure the release of the ship and its occupants under international law.

"The Dutch government has lodged a rare application at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), asking it to order the immediate release of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and all those who were aboard for the peaceful protest against Gazprom’s Arctic oil platform, the Prirazlomnaya. If ITLOS rules in favour of the Netherlands, the 28 Greenpeace International activists, freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov and freelance videographer Kieron Bryan could go home while they await confirmation of a Russian court date."

Only 21 cases have ever been heard by the Tribunal. This is the first ever for the Dutch. ITLOS has a United Nations mandate.

In Murmansk, bail continues to be denied for the rest of the thirty detainees, including British activist Alex Harris. The Telegraph reported on her situation, including extracts from a letter she wrote to her family:

"Earlier, while addressing the court, she said: “I have been in prison for 22 days for a crime I did not commit. Furthermore I have not seen any document showing my involvement in such a crime.
“The only thing that happened was peaceful protest and I believe the video evidence and Greenpeace’s long history will prove this.”"

Greenpeace were intending to protest in Murmansk during the bail hearings using a mock cage. This was stolen during at break-in at thier offices.

A strange development, which is difficult to interpret at the moment.

Greenpeace's UK executive director, John Sauven, was interviewed today in The Independent.

"Whatever happens to the Arctic, it looks likely that the case against the 30 protesters could drag on for a while – and given Russia’s track record in these matters, there can be no guarantee that justice or reason will prevail."

A petition has been set up on campaigning platform Avaaz to free the Arctic 30, aiming mainly at Russia's partners in the BRICS economic alliance:

Across the pond, friend of Kieron's, Andrew Wallace Chamings, interviewed Russell for

"Have you or your family considered the prospect of traveling to Russia?
Absolutely. We are desperate to go. I think at the moment it's a case of taking the Foreign Office advice. But we are starting to look at visas, and we will go as soon as we can. Mum and Dad want to make sure he's OK and that he knows we are fighting for him."

Ben O'Donnell has organised a benefit gig for Free Kieron at the Windmill, Brixton, on Sunday 9th November at 7 pm. Details to follow.

I've never been but it looks like exactly Kieron's kind of place.

Fundraising continues - vocal supporter Peter Lovett raised £150 with a cake sale at Kingsley School. Remember, you can donate through Paypal.

A fascinating (and long) article, originally written in Russian by Sergei Kharov, has been translated here:

It includes an interview with the adoptive father of Dmitry (Dima) Litvinov, and this quote from Viktoria Zhdanova, lead lawyer for the company Inmarin, expert on the Law of the Sea:

"The Greenpeace activists did not try to take over another person’s property for mercenary aims, and that is precisely the main motivation for piracy. Their action did not presume the gain of personal profit or the seizure of the platform. The charging of the photographer Denis Sinyakov with these offenses looks all the more strange."

I'll end today's update with a simple but touching story from Kent.

"Emily Gilbert, who set up Rowdy and Fancy's Chocolate in Mark Beech with her best friend Lynne, hopes that sending their chocolate to a Greenpeace campaigner in custody over piracy charges will make a difference.

"We read in the news that Kieron Bryan, one of the Arctic 30, is reported to have said in a letter to his family: 'I have run out of books but a care package of food arrived today – chocolate helps!'

"We immediately decided to send Kieron some of ours.""

I hope Kieron enjoys his gourmet chocolate. Of course, we all hope he'll be home soon and free to eat as much chocolate as he likes. Write to your MP, encourage them to sign Early Day Motion 600 and to attend Wednesday's debate - it might help to Free Kieron.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

MPs to debate, Family visits Foreign Office, more of the thirty denied bail

This brilliant illustration by Nibby Williams sums up the ridiculous nature of the charges laid against Kieron.

On Wednesday Kieron's family visited the Foreign Office.

"His father Andy, from Shebbear, in Devon, said: "Days like today give us a little bit more positivity, a little bit more hope.

"The Foreign Office has assured us they are in talks with other governments... we wanted to know they were doing this.""

This was covered on BBC Spotlight South West TV News. Unfortunately this is only available on iPlayer for a very short time. Here's some photos of Russell being filmed, and as he appeared:

The Guardian also covered the meeting:

MP Chris Bryant has managed to secure a debate in then House of Commons, about the Arctic 30. The BBC covered the story here:

"Andy Bryan, father of freelance video journalist Kieron, said the debate was "good news" for the families.

"In terms of publicity, a debate in the Commons is good news for us and will hopefully get [Foreign Secretary] William Hague to do something," he told BBC News."

Andy also mentions that they hoping to get a phone call from Kieron soon.

Details of the debate can be found on the UK Parliament website:

Please write to your MP to encourage them to attend this debate. You can find your MP at

Ready-to-use letters can be found here:

If you have already written to your MP: Letter

If you have not yet written to your MP: Letter

More of the Arctic 30 have today been denied bail, again with proceedings held up by translation issues. Eleven Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, added their voices calling for the piracy charges to be dropped. The Independent covers this:

German chancellor Angela Merkel has also commented on the case:

BBC correspondent Daniel Sandford has made this documentary about oil drilling in northern Russia:

A few people have asked me about Kieron's legal representation after his last letter. Kieron has a lawyer provided by Greenpeace, who are also covering the costs for Kieron's family to travel to Russia. The Donate page has more details of this.

Please write to your MP. It's quick and easy and may just help to Free Kieron.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Harriet Harman keeps pressing, more coverage in the Times, IFJ, Free Denis

More of the Arctic 30, including the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, Peter Willcox, and British activist Frank Hewetson, have had their bail appeals denied by the Murmansk district court.

At the current rate it will be some time before all the appeals are heard. As the BBC article indicates, there are translation issues - not a surprise given the huge variety of nationalities in custody.

Monday's edition of The Times carried coverage of Kieron's letter home:

Sky News also had the story, with a few different extracts from the letter:

Kieron's MP, Harriet Harman, continues to support Kieron. She tweeted on Monday:

"Still no phone call from Kieron Bryan to his family. am protesting to @RussianEmbassy #FreeKieron"

She also submitted a question to William Hague, Foreign Secretary:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, when British consular officials in Russia have visited Kieron Bryan since his detention on 19 September 2013; how long each such visit lasted;  and when the next such visit will take place."

(page 28 of this pdf:

Chris Bryant MP, Chair of the Parliamentary All-Party Group on Russia, met with Kieron's family today.

The International Federation of Journalists reiterated their support of Kieron and Denis Sinyakov:

"The decision of the Russian court to detain these men and charge them with piracy is simply absurd," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "They are journalists and were doing their jobs. The court's ruling violates press freedom and freedom of expression and we call on the authorities in Russia to drop the charges and release the journalists immediately."

In St Petersburg, journalists protested in support of Denis Sinyakov:

Back home, Kieron's occasional football team offered their support:

A parcel for Kieron from his girlfriend was denied entry into Russia by customs today. Kieron has still been unable to call his family, which seems unfair, as Harriet Harman states. Let's hope the involvement of MPs can help to Free Kieron.