Protest over journalist's detention
Supporters of a British journalist detained in Russia while covering a Greenpeace protest will hold a silent protest outside the country's London embassy today.
Videographer Kieron Bryan, 29, from Devon, was among 30 people including six Britons who were held when armed Russian officials boarded their vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, in September.
The boat and Greenpeace protesters were taken from the Arctic's Pechora sea, near oil company Gazprom's platform, to the port of Murmansk.
The six Britons, including Mr Bryan, who was documenting the protest, were being investigated for piracy, but were later charged with hooliganism.
Mr Bryan's supporters will stand outside the Russian embassy near Kensington Gardens for two hours from midday before handing over a petition signed by 1,400 journalists asking for his immediate release.
His family have maintained since his was detained that he was only doing his job reporting the protest and was not actually involved in the demonstration.
But Greenpeace said even those actively involved in the protest did not deserve the harsh treatment they had received from Russian authorities.
International executive director Kumi Naidoo said the 30 men and women were facing jail time simply because two peaceful protesters had tried to hang a small yellow banner from the side of a 500,000 tonne oil platform.
"First this saga shocked people across the world, now it has descended into farce," he said.
"Those campaigners were willing to risk their liberty to shine a light on dangerous Arctic oil drilling, but the authorities' reaction has been wildly disproportionate.
"The legal hammer now being wielded against them says so much more about those who have brought these charges than it does about the prisoners.
"They are neither pirates nor hooligans, they are simply people possessed of a conscience who care about our common future and they should be released immediately."
Mr Naidoo said Greenpeace had been told by diplomatic sources the Arctic 30 had been moved from a detention centre in Murmansk to a jail in St Petersburg.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said the British government was aware of the claim and was investigating further, but was yet to confirm it.
Mr Naidoo said the move would mean families and consular officers would find it easier to visit the detainees and St Petersburg at least received some daylight in winter months.
"But there is no guarantee that conditions inside the new detention centre will be any better than in Murmansk," he said.
"In fact, they could be worse.
"There is no justification whatsoever to keep the Arctic 30 in any prison for a day longer.
"They are prisoners of conscience who acted out of a determination to protect us all, and they should be free."
Hundreds of events have been held around the world since the arrests, and more than 1.85 million people have sent letters and emails calling for those detained to be released.