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Home at last – Russia releases 'Arctic 30'

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 28, 2013

By Eva Jones

  • Kieron Bryan, above, was one of those on the Arctic Sunrise

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Family and friends have welcomed home three Greenpeace activists from the West Country after they returned home from Russia.

Alex Harris, videographer Kieron Bryan and maritime engineer Iain Rogers, all from Devon, were among the six British members of the so-called "Arctic 30" who arrived back in London yesterday.

They flew from St Petersburg to Paris then boarded the Eurostar to St Pancras, along with fellow Britons Anthony Perrett, Phil Ball and Alexandre Paul.

The group were all detained following a protest against drilling for oil in the Arctic region before charges against them were dropped.

They had been anxiously waiting to leave the country and hoping exit visas would be processed before Russia began its festive holidays on December 31.

Mr Bryan, 29, who was part of the group arrested in September and whose family live in Shebbear in Devon, said it was a "wonderful feeling" to be starting 2014 back in the UK after the trauma. His brother Russell Bryan said the family were going to "open a few beers" to celebrate the return after three months in detention.

"We are going to have another Christmas and enjoy the fact that he is around again," he added.

His father, Andy Bryan, told the BBC it had been "a very long three months".

Sue Turner, the mother Mr Rogers, the ship's captain who is from Exeter, said a quick call from her son on Christmas Day had been the "best present ever".

"They cleared them all through very quickly and I am waiting to hear from him – either he will stay in London overnight or I will get a call to say 'pick me up from the station', she added.

The 30 people were arrested in September following a protest outside a Russian oil rig in the Arctic.

The group had initially been accused of piracy, which carries a sentence of 15 years, but the charge was later downgraded to hooliganism, which carries a sentence of seven years.

The campaigners were detained in the Russian port city of Murmansk before being moved to St Petersburg and eventually bailed.

A global campaign to free the group, spearheaded by their families and Greenpeace, put pressure on the Russian government to release them.

They spent two months in jail before they were granted bail in November.

Hooliganism charges against the crew were later dropped after Russia's parliament passed an amnesty law that was seen as an attempt by the Kremlin to assuage the criticism of Russia's human rights record before the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

A spokesman for Greenpeace said: "After 102 days it's great to have them on the way back home. We've spoken to them and they're excited to be coming back.

"It is a relief to their families who have gone through a difficult time."

Greenpeace member Anthony Perrett, 32, of Newport, South Wales, who was among those arrested said: "We took peaceful action to defend a part of the world that is the heartbeat of our climate. The Arctic is a measure of our planet's health and I refuse to stay silent as the oil companies line up to profit from its destruction. Together we are saying to the oil companies that the Arctic is off-limits."

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