Family of arrested Devon journalist lobby for his release
The family of a Briton held in Russia on piracy charges say MPs have pledged their support to lobby for his safe release.
Kieron Bryan, a freelance film-maker from Devon, is one of 30 people detained in the northern city of Murmansk after Greenpeace’s vessel Arctic Sunrise was boarded by the Russian coast guard.
Actor Jude Law, Blur frontman Damon Albarn and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood have all joined the campaign to free the activists, who had been protesting at the offshore platform owned by Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom in the Pechora Sea last month.
Mr Bryan’s parents, Ann and Andy, from Shebbear in north Devon, and older brother Russell, met with deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman today to push forward with plans to secure the videographer’s return to England.
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Russell Bryan, 32, who lives near his sibling in London, said: “I wrote to Harriet the first day I knew my brother had been detained. Her office have been absolutely brilliant so far, arranging the meeting with her today.
“We discussed with Harriet the conditions Kieron’s being held in. She really wanted to get a handle on what his situation at the moment is like.
“We explained he was a freelance journalist working for Greenpeace and we discussed the ways she can potentially help.
“She has suggested several things.”
Ms Harman’s office has confirmed the MP would be looking to meet with Foreign Secretary William Hague as early as tomorrow, as well as minister of state for Europe David Lidington later this week.
The cameraman, 29, has been told he may be detained for two months pending a piracy investigation.
Greenpeace denies any wrongdoing and described the charge as “absurd and outrageous”.
But Mr Bryan’s family have had little contact with him since he was detained in Murmansk.
“He’s spending 23 hours a day in his cell, it’s just him and one other man in there – a Russian – so my brother is learning the language to be able to communicate with him,” the videographer’s brother said.
“Mum and dad are finding it really hard. To not have any contact with him since he arrived in Murmansk has been really tough on him. It’s been really difficult to know how he is feeling since the charges were laid against him - it’s been terribly hard.
“He’s described the food as being poor, it’s very noisy, he’s been moved around a lot. The Foreign Office have described him, from a meeting they have had with him, as being emotionally and mentally drained. As a family it’s hard to hear that about your little brother or your son.”
He added: “I think the charges that have been levied against all 30 people have been received with incredulity and astonishment.
“The charges are crazy, and I think that Harriet was very concerned with Kieron’s plight. She wants to do as much as she can – the more awareness we can raise within Parliament and the more pressure we can apply, the better.”
Greenpeace is campaigning against attempts by companies to drill for oil in the waters of the Arctic, warning that a spill would be highly environmentally damaging and extraction of more fossil fuels will add to climate change.
Gazprom’s plans to start drilling from the Prirazlomnaya platform in the first quarter of 2014 raised the risk of an oil spill in an area that contains three nature reserves protected by Russian law, campaigners said.
Mr Bryan is due in court within the next week to determine whether his bail will be granted.