Greenpeace Arctic30: Family of Australian Colin Russell visit Parliament, call on Foreign Minister to do more
Canberra, 18 November 2014.On the day Tasmanian Colin Russell will be in a St Petersburg court for a hearing to determine if his pre-trial detention will be extended for three months, his wife and daughter joined Independent Member for Denison Mr Andrew Wilkie and Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne at Parliament House to urge the Abbott government do more to help secure the release of Mr Russell, detained in Russia and charged with piracy and hooliganism for a peaceful protest in the Arctic against oil drilling.
Last Friday the Russian authorities applied for a three month extension to the pre-trial detention period which was due to end on 24 November. The Arctic 30 have been in detention already for 62 days.
Wife Christine Russell and daughter Madeleine thanked Mr Wilkie and the Australian Greens for their support during a very difficult time.
"Madeleine and I really appreciate the help of Mr Wilkie and Senator Milne in working to get Colin home to us safely as soon as possible,” Mrs Russell said.
“What we are asking is that the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop escalate her efforts to assist in securing the release of Colin. No-one should be in prison for peacefully working to raise awareness of threats to our natural environment - in this case highlighting the damage of oil spills to the pristine arctic.
“Minister Bishop has told me that there is no scope for the Australian Government to intervene in the Russian legal process. The least the Abbott government can do is emulate other world leaders, including the British Prime Minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel who have picked up the phone to President Putin to express their concern,” Ms Russell.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said, “The charges of piracy and hooliganism against the Arctic30 are absurd and disproportionate. Leaders from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Brazil and Germany have done more than the Abbott government to underline the need to let them free.
“Heads of state across the globe have shown up the government’s position as misguided and with the possibility of Colin Russell’s pre-trial detention being extended today for three months it’s time the government change it’s tack,” Mr Ritter said.
The Arctic 30 have been charged with piracy and hooliganism carrying sentences of 15 and 7 years respectively for an attempt to peacefully hang a banner on an arctic oil platform.
The Dutch Government has lodged a rare application at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) requesting the immediate release of the Arctic 30 and the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace vessel the Arctic Sunrise.
On 24 November 2013 the two-month detention period imposed on the Arctic 30 by the Leninsky District Court of Murmansk formally comes to an end. Hearings for the extension of pre-trial detention for each person in the Arctic30 take place on a rolling basis this week, including Australian resident and UK citizen Alexandra Harris on Wednesday.
Contact: Alison Orme for Greenpeace Australia Pacific 0432 332 104
A timeline of the events can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/arctic30-updates/