Thursday, 3 October 2013

Kieron Bryan has been charged with piracy

Kieron Bryan is a freelance video journalist who is currently detained in Russia , awaiting trial having been charged with piracy.

Kieron was aboard the Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace ship, having been employed by the charity on a short-term contract as a videographer. Also on board was Denis Sinyakov, a freelance photographer, and 28 Greenpeace activists.

After a protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, as part of which two Greenpeace activists attempted to climb the platform,  the Russian national security service, the FSB, stormed the Arctic Sunrise and towed it to the port of Murmansk. All 30 people aboard, including Kieron and Denis Sinyakov, have now been charged with piracy, a crime which carries a minimum ten year prison term under Russian law.

Kieron Bryan is a journalist. He is not a member of Greenpeace. He is not an environmental activist. He was contracted by Greenpeace, as he would by by any other entity wishing to use his services as freelance videographer. He is definitely not a pirate.

This site is part of a campaign to free Kieron from Russian custody, given his position as a journalist under contract, and not part of any activity intended to disrupt or interfere with the legal activity of any other organisation or body. He cannot be guilty of piracy, as his presence at the oil rig was for an entirely innocent purpose, that of documenting and reporting. No judgement is made or implied as to the legitimacy or value of the Greenpeace actions or cause. This campaign is about the imprisonment of an innocent journalist, and not environmental issues.


Greenpeace has been campaigning on the issue of oil drilling in the Arctic for sometime. In August 2012, they visited the same oil platform, and successfully climbed aboard. This Youtube video illustrates this: . Presumably this was the intention of the recent visit to the oil platform.

On September 18th, 2013, two Greenpeace activists attempted to climb the oil rig again, and were captured by Russian security forces. They are held aboard a Russian coastguard ship.

The next day, September 19th, FSB personnel board the Arctic Sunrise, and detain the crew in the mess hall. The ship is then towed to Murmansk, which takes five days. As the ship approaches Murmansk, a picture is released by Greenpeace, giving our first view of Kieron since the ship was seized.

Kieron is on the left in the red jacket. When this picture was first issued it was a relief to see that Kieron was unharmed, if looking a little glum - understandable in the circumstances.

All thirty aboard the ship are then moved to a detention facility. At some point in this process, Kieron is able to call his parents to reassure them that he is in good health.

On Thursday, September 26th, preliminary court hearings begin. The courthouse has seen better days:

It becomes clear fairly early on that the majority of the thirty are being detained for two months without bail pending an investigation into piracy. Kieron's case is one of the last to be heard. Before he faces the judge, Greenpeace release the following message on Twitter: "We just received a txt from UK videographer pending hearing in the court: "What's the score of Tottenham of British Prime League?" ( )

Tottenham Hotspur FC can be certain that Kieron's support of the club runs pretty deep.

On Thursday evening, the update comes that we were all expecting, but hoping against:

"UPDATE: UK freelance videographer, Kieron Bryan, to be held in custody for 2 months pending piracy investigation" (

Sinyakov, the freelance photographer, had been given the same judgement much earlier in the day, and his case had attracted some media attention. The next day, Kieron's similar situation begins to filter through.

Reporters Without Borders help to spread the word with this article:,45251.html

Some of the Greenpeace activists had been told to return in three days to the court. On Sunday 29th, all of these activists were given the same judgement as the others. It appears that the reason for the second hearing of these activists was a delay in translation. This article describes Sunday's activities in more detail (in Russian, but Google Translate does a passable job):

At this point, it was not at all clear how long we would have to wait for the next update. It turned out to be three days. On the morning of Wednesday 2nd October, this tweet from Greenpeace appeared:

"UPDATE: Crew member Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel from Brazil and freelance videographer Kieron Bryan from UK charged with piracy." (

By the end of Thursday 3rd, all thirty people who were aboard the Arctic Sunrise had been charged with piracy. If convicted, they face a custodial sentence of ten to fifteen years. Kieron Bryan is not a criminal. Kieron Bryan is not a pirate. Kieron Bryan is not even an activist. Kieron Bryan is a journalist.

Kieron Bryan is innocent.

Free Kieron Bryan.