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IFJ/EFJ Condemn Continued Detention of Journalists in Russia

10 October 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have reiterated their call for the immediate release of the journalists who were on the Greenpeace ship that was seized by Russian authorities.

British journalists Kieron Bryan and Phil Ball, and Russian journalist Denis Sinyakov, were among 30 people on board the Greenpeace ship who were detained by Russian authorities on September 19 for allegedly trying to board a Gazprom Oil Platform in a protest against oil drilling in the Artic.

According to media reports, a court in the Russian city of Murmansk has ordered that freelance video producer Bryan be charged with piracy, a charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 15 years, while photographers Ball and Sinyakov have been placed in preventative custody for two months. A bail appeal for Sinyakov has already been denied, while the appeals for the British journalists are currently pending.

It has been reported that some of those being detained are being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, while others are held in "extremely cold" cells.

"The decision of the Russian court to detain these men and charge them with piracy is simply absurd," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "They are journalists and were doing their jobs. The court's ruling violates press freedom and freedom of expression and we call on the authorities in Russia to drop the charges and release the journalists immediately."

A petition demanding the immediate release of Sinyakov has been signed by a number of IFJ affiliates and fully backed by the IFJ. The appeal has been signed by the Russian Union of Journalists, Journalists' Trade Union of Azerbaijan, the Journalists' Union of Armenia, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Independent Asssociation of Georgian Journalists and the Journalists' Union of Moldova.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for the UK and Ireland, has also condemned the decisions and called on the Russian authorities to release the journalists immediately.

"To accuse these journalists of the criminal act of "piracy" when they were simply doing their job as journalists is deeply worrying," said EFJ president Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. "If Russia's Constitutional guarantees to protect freedom of expression have any foundation then both journalists must be released immediately."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries