Greenpeace protester bailed by Russia

Witney Gazette: Greenpeace International activist Phil Ball is released on bail from the SIZO 1 detention centre in St Petersburg, Russia. Picture: Sharamov/Greenpeace Greenpeace International activist Phil Ball is released on bail from the SIZO 1 detention centre in St Petersburg, Russia. Picture: Sharamov/Greenpeace

CHIPPING Norton resident and Greenpeace campaigner Phil Ball was released from custody in Russia yesterday.

The father-of-three was granted bail on Friday and became the 29th detainee to be released from detention in St Petersburg.

Mr Ball, who was been held in Russia for the past two months, was one of 28 activists and two journalists seized from their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, by armed coastguards after some of them tried to scale a Russian offshore oil drilling platform in the Barents Sea.

He told reporters: “I just want to go home and meet the rest of the 30 and move on to the next stage.”

Last night his brother Steve Ball, 44, also from Chipping Norton said: “It is absolutely brilliant, just superb. It means we will be able to talk to him on Skype and see how he is. I can’t wait to hear from him.

“But we have not seen any bail conditions. I would be amazed and delighted if they were allowed to come back to England.

“They are still liable for five years labour or seven years in prison and so it is not over until the fat lady sings.”

Charged with piracy and placed in a pre-trial detention centre in Murmansk, the charges against them were later reduced to hooliganism, which carries a potential seven-year jail sentence.

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A total of 29 of the Arctic 30 have now been granted bail from their current detention centre in St Petersburg, with a £38,000 surety for each prisoner paid by Greenpeace.

Australian Colin Russell is still behind bars in Russia for his part in the protest but Greenpeace said lawyers were lodging appeals.

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