November 19, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Russian photographer freed on bail, British video reporter still held

Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learned that Denis Sinyakov, a Russian photographer who was arrested along with British video reporter Kieron Bryan and 28 Greenpeace activists in the Russian Arctic two months ago, was released on bail by a St. Petersburg court yesterday evening. “Sinyakov’s release took too long,” Reporters Without Borders said. “There was no justification for this two-month ordeal, one that is still not over inasmuch as he is still facing such absurd charges as hooliganism and piracy. “We urge the court to now release Bryan and to drop all the charges against both journalists. As we already said, these two journalists were just doing their job as reporters and the proceedings initiated against them constitute a grave violation of freedom of information.” Sinyakov, Bryan and the 28 environmental activists were arrested on 19 September when Russian special forces boarded the Arctic Sunrise, a ship that Greenpeace sent to the Barents Sea to draw attention to the potential environmental consequences of oil and gas exploration in the region. The day before the vessel was boarded, some of the activists had tried to scale an offshore drilling platform operated by the Russian gas company Gazprom. Sinyakov and Bryan were on board just to cover the protest. After the Arctic Sunrise had been towed to Murmansk, the local authorities detained everyone aboard and announced that they were being investigated for “piracy” and then “hooliganism,” charges that carry maximum sentences of 15 and 7 years in prison respectively. After all 30 were transferred to St. Petersburg a week ago, a local court began reexamining their detention orders. So far, it has released 12 on bail of 2 million roubles (45,000 euros) each, and has extended the detention of one. The court is expected to have taken a decision on all the others by the end of week. (Photo: AFP Photo / Greenpeace / Igor Podgorny)