Greenpeace arctic protest: Briton Philip Ball is freed

He was granted bail last week but remained in detention before being released by a court in St Petersburg today

The last of the six Britons arrested by Russian authorities during a Greenpeace protest in the Arctic has been freed from detention.

Philip Ball from Oxford was granted bail last week but remained in detention before being released by a court in St Petersburg today.

Only one of the 30 people arrested by the Russian authorities two months ago - Australian Colin Russell - remains in detention.

Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise was seized by the Russian authorities, and 28 activists and two freelance journalists on board were arrested.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, sitting in Hamburg, has ruled that the ship and those arrested should be released in return for a 3.6 million euro (£3 million) bond.

The five Britons previously released were Anthony Perrett, from Newport in south Wales, freelance journalist Kieron Bryan, Alexandra Harris from Exeter, Iain Rogers from Devon, and Frank Hewetson from London.

Phil Ball's brother, Steve, said: "It's absolutely brilliant news. After two months in jail he could have done without another weekend behind bars, but it's a great relief to know he's finally out and able to talk to his friends and colleagues.

"Our thoughts though are still with Colin's family. It's great to see people from the four corners of the world calling for his immediate release and I do hope he'll be able to join the other 29 soon."

Ben Ayliffe, of Greenpeace International, said: "This is news we've been waiting for all weekend, but of course our hearts and thoughts remain with Colin Russell and his family.

"Since being reunited after their release, our friends in St Petersburg have swapped stories, tears and experiences, hugged friends and each other and told of their great resolve and commitment to defending the Arctic against oil drilling and climate change.

"This is not over yet and none of us will be truly happy until all of the Arctic 30 have been released from detention and the charges against them dropped."

Greenpeace said it was not yet certain whether the released non-Russian nationals can leave Russia and return home, while lawyers for Mr Russell are lodging appeals against his continued detention and expect a hearing to be held this week.

Speaking to Australian media, Colin's wife, Christine - who plans to travel to St Petersburg with the couple's daughter, Madeleine, this week - has appealed to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to do more to help secure her husband's release.

"I just think Colin would be so ashamed at the thought that our prime minister and foreign affairs minister have not been able to take five minutes... and pick up the phone and make direct representations," she said.

PA
 

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