UK Greenpeace activist denied bail in Russia over protest against Arctic oil drilling


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The Independent Online

A second British member of the Greenpeace crew arrested by the Russian authorities during a protest against drilling in the Arctic has been denied bail.

Frank Hewetson was seized with 29 others on the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise on 19 September.

His partner Nina Gold said, "Frank has now spent three weeks locked up thousands of miles away from his family. He is accused of an absurd crime which clearly none of the Arctic 30 are guilty of committing.

"The only thing he is guilty of is participating in an entirely peaceful protest to raise awareness of a cause that he passionately believes in - protecting the planet and the fragile wilderness of the Arctic.

"He has two teenage children back home who miss him terribly, and not knowing when we'll be able to see him again is agony."

A court in the north-western port city of Murmansk has also denied bail to other members of the 'Arctic 30'; four Russian activists, the American captain of the ship, and another two activists from New Zealand and Italy respectively, after members of the group tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Pechora Sea.

The group are being held on charges of 'piracy as part of an organised group'.

The government of the Netherlands, where the campaigners' ship is registered, has mounted a legal challenge to the arrests.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said "The court's refusal to grant bail to Frank Hewetson flies in the face of all logic.

"Frank, like the other 29 being held, presents no threat to Russia and should be allowed to return home to be with their families.

"Greenpeace has offered sureties that will guarantee the return of all of those charged for any future court case. This is looking a lot like punishment before conviction."

Kieron Bryan, from Devon, was also denied bail at an earlier hearing.

Six of the 30-strong crew detained are from the UK.