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November 7, 2013

Cameron calls Putin and London Assembly passes motion calling for release of jailed journalist Kieron Bryan

By Darren Boyle

The London Assembly has called for the immediate release of jailed journalist Kieron Bryan who has been in custody for the past 50 days.

The chamber voted unanimously for Russian authorities to free Bryan and the other 29 detainees who are facing charges of hooliganism.

Bryan was filming a Greenpeace protest aboard their vessel the Arctic Sunrise when it was raided by Russian special forces.

Assembly member Valerie Shawcross proposed the motion calling for Bryan’s release.

"The Russian authorities must by now realise that their overreaction to a peaceful Greenpeace protest in international waters has served only to reinforce suspicions that Russia pays lip service to democratic rights”

”The detention of Kieron Bryan is particularly grievous as he was not engaged in the protest but on board the Artic Sunrise to record and report on them. His arrest is a further threat to journalistic freedoms throughout Russia, he should be released immediately.

”If journalists are not given the space to do their job, how will we ever know what the powerful and powerful corporations are doing.”

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She was supported by fellow assembly member Jenny Jones: “Legitimate protest and the rights of journalists to report are central to a free society. Russia must live up to its international obligations to respect justice and due process. To protect our own freedoms we must stand up when others are threatened, Kieron Bryan’s detention threatens us all.”

This follows David Cameron’s intervention in the affair with a phone-call to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

A spokesperson for Cameron said the Prime Minister called for “prompt, fair and proportionate action”.

"President Putin was understanding of the Prime Minister's concerns. They agreed to stay in touch on the issue," a No 10 spokesman said.

Speaking to BBC Radio Devon, Cameron described the charges as "excessive" and called on the Russians to "de-escalate" 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.In a letter home Kieron Bryan said: "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."

Greenpeace political director Ruth Davis welcomed Cameron's intervention."The indications are that this was a positive call, and we hope this will translate into the urgent action needed that will see all 30 of those detained released without delay," she said.

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