Patrice Dougan

Patrice Dougan is a NZME. News Service reporter based in Auckland.

Kiwi Greenpeace activists freed from Russian jail

Jonathan Beauchamp has been released from prison in Russia. Photo / AP
Jonathan Beauchamp has been released from prison in Russia. Photo / AP

Both New Zealand Greenpeace activists being held in Russia over an Arctic drilling protest have been freed on bail.

David Haussmann and Jonathan Beauchamp were arrested with the so-called Arctic 30 in September after Russian authorities boarded their vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, in international waters.

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They were charged with hooliganism, along with 26 other Greenpeace activists, a freelance photographer and a freelance videographer.

Mr Haussmann was granted bail earlier this week and walked out of Russian prison yesterday. Mr Beauchamp has now also been freed.

All but one of the 30 detainees has been granted bail, Greenpeace said. It is understood the only activist to be denied bail was an Australian.

It came as a marine tribunal ordered Russia to free the jailed campaigners.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) made a binding ruling to release the Arctic Sunrise ship, and the Arctic 30 on a 3.6 million euro ($5.9 million) bond, Greenpeace said.

The charity's executive director Kumi Naidoo, called it an "historic day".

"These 30 men and women were detained only because they stood up and courageously took peaceful action against Arctic oil drilling and to halt the devastating impacts of climate change."

Mr Naidoo said the ruling "goes a long way towards rectifying the great injustice against the Arctic 30".

He said 29 people granted bail was "not enough".

"This tribunal has clearly stated that all 30 should be free to leave Russia until the arbitral proceedings have been concluded," Mr Naidoo said.

"It is time for the Arctic 30 to come home to their loved ones."

David Haussmann stands in a cage during his imprisonment in Russia. Photo / AP
David Haussmann stands in a cage during his imprisonment in Russia. Photo / AP

The Greenpeace activists were protesting against drilling for oil in Arctic waters. They had focussed their attentions on a drilling platform owned by gas giant Gazprom. Two people tried to climb onto the platform and hang a banner.

Jasper Teulings, general counsel at Greenpeace, thanked the Dutch government for filing a complaint with the Hamburg-based ITLOS, and "bringing the freedom of our friends in Russia a significant step closer".

"Given that Russia is traditionally a strong defender of the importance of adhering to international law and of the UNCLOS regime, we at Greenpeace assume the Russian Federation will comply with the order," he said.

However, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the ruling had no jurisdiction over its criminal prosecution of the 30 jailed activists, Reuters reported.

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