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November 18, 2013

Kieron Bryan’s bail hearing adjourned until Wednesday due to translation problems

By Darren Boyle

A bail hearing for jailed journalist Kieron Bryan has been adjourned until Wednesday after problems with a translator at the court in St Petersburg earlier today.

The 29 year old videographer was arrested in September aboard the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise while covering a protest against oil drilling in the arctic circle.

Bryan was filming as Russian special forces fast-roped onto the deck of the vessel before taking it into custody and towing it to Murmansk.

Earlier today, one of the boat’s crew, Colin Russell was remanded in custody until February, however, the ship’s doctor Ekaterina Zapsa was released on bail of £38,000.

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Under Russian law, criminal suspects can be held in custody for up to 18 months before prosecutors have to act.

Last week the group were transferred from Murmansk to St Petersburg by train under armed guard.

The group were originally charged with piracy and faced a possible 15 year jail term. Prosecutors downgraded the charges to hooliganism, although this still leaves a possible seven year sentence.

Bryan’s legal team will return to court on Wednesday with a new translator in a bid to secure bail. Otherwise he faces a further three months in prison.

Mads Christensen, of Greenpeace International, said: "This is of course positive news, but this does not mean Ekaterina's ordeal is in any way over. She may be released on bail, but she is still charged with hooliganism, the charge of piracy has not been officially withdrawn, and therefore she still faces maybe 20 years in jail for a crime she didn't commit.

"And of course our beloved friend and colleague Colin did not get bail and is being sent back to a Russian prison cell for a further three months.

"The case against the Arctic 30 has descended into high farce. An Australian environmentalist without a passport is refused bail on the grounds that he could flee the country or interfere in an investigation into a peaceful protest in the Arctic, while another detainee arrested in identical circumstances is told she can leave jail. They should all be released from prison. This is a scandal, this bears no relation to the administration of justice. We will do everything we can to get our people out."

John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said: "There is no rational reason to release one activist on bail and keep another in prison for three months.

"The Russian courts are making decisions that have a huge impact on the detainees and their families in what appears to be a completely arbitrary manner. We will be appealing all decisions denying bail to our activists and the two journalists imprisoned with them."


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