Six more Greenpeace activists leave Russia: Group

Six more Greenpeace activists leave Russia: Group
A handout picture released by Greenpeace shows Greenpeace International activist Iain Rogers of Britain (R) and Alexandre Paul of Canada checking in at Saint Petersburg airport on December 27, 2013 after receiving their exit visas.

SAINT PETERSBURG - Five British Greenpeace activists and one Canadian flew out of Russia on Friday following an amnesty which halted their prosecution for a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic, the environmental group said.

The activists took off on a plane heading for Paris from Saint Petersburg's Pulkovo airport precisely 100 days after they were first detained in September, a Greenpeace spokesman told AFP.

On board the plane are Anthony Perrett, Phil Ball, Iain Rogers, Alex Harris and Kieron Bryan - all British citizens - and Alexandre Paul of Canada.

Seven of 30 activists charged in the probe have now left Russia after Dmitri Litvinov, a Swedish-American, left Saint Petersburg for Helsinki on Thursday. Four of the so-called Arctic 30 are Russian nationals.

"We're leaving Russia, it's over, we're finally truly free," Harris said in comments before leaving, quoted by Greenpeace, saying she was "grateful and humbled" by the support she received.

"I promise I will repay those people by using my freedom to stand up for the Arctic," she added.

Their initial arrest came when the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise was seized by the Russian security forces who winched down from a helicopter in a commando-style operation.

They were initially detained in the Arctic Circle city of Murmansk and then transferred to Russia's second city of Saint Peterburg.

It was courts in Saint Petersburg that in November ordered the release of all 30 on bail. Their departure from Saint Petersburg was then made possible by the Kremlin-backed amnesty.

The Arctic Sunrise ship remains under Russian control in Murmansk.

The arrest of the Arctic 30 - who hail from 18 different countries - risked becoming another bone of contention in increasingly tense relations between Russia and the West.

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