The American captain and two British members of a Greenpeace ship arrested during a protest against Arctic oil drilling have been been granted bail today.
Captain Peter Wilcox, a Greenpeace veteran and Britons Alex Harris and Kieron Bryan were bailed, along with Faiza Oulahsen, a Dutch national and Mannes Ubels of the Netherlands. They join the nine other foreign detainees and three Russians to have already been granted bail.
Courts in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, where the 28 activists and two journalists were taken last week, have so far granted bail to 17 people.
However, bail was refused for Australian crew member Colin Russell, who was the first to be heard on Monday. A Greenpeace lawyer said an appeal would soon be filed seeking to secure his release as well, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
Bail has been set at two million roubles (£38,000) for each detainee. A third Briton, Anthony Perrett, is waiting to find out if he too will be granted release today.
Greenpeace, which says the protest on 18 September was meant to draw attention to the impact of offshore Arctic drilling on the environment, said it had already posted bail for nine of those detained. During the protest, some of the activists tried to scale an oil platform.
The 'Artic 30', as they became known in the media were initially facing the more serious charge of piracy, but this was changed to hooliganism, which carries a seven year sentence if they are convicted.
Mr Bryan's family said in a statement: “It's amazing news to know that Kieron will be released from prison soon. We have been thinking of him every minute of every day and we can't wait to speak to him and see him.
“Our relief is obviously tempered by the fact that he is still facing absurd charges, despite the fact that he was just doing his job. This isn't over for him or the others involved and we hope that these charges will be dropped soon so that he can carry on with his life without this terrible uncertainty hanging over him.”
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace in the UK, said: “Although this process is a long way from being resolved, today's decision by the court to grant bail to Alex will come as a huge relief to her family and friends. Our focus now will be to get the remaining activists released.
“The Arctic 30 still face absurd charges for peacefully protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic.”
Additional reporting by PA