Arrested in the Arctic, detained by Russian authorities, and at the centre of a worldwide Greenpeace campaign – Sheffield University graduate Kieron Bryan returned to the city yesterday to give his first public speech since getting home.
The journalism studies graduate became famous after being detained alongside 28 activists and a fellow freelance journalist after a protest on an Arctic oil rig last September.
The group, dubbed the Arctic 30, initially faced charges of piracy which were later downgraded to hooliganism.
Their arrests sparked an international campaign by Greenpeace to free them – and last November Sheffield University graduates and students attended a silent protest outside the Russian embassy in London.
Kieron said support from Sheffield was ‘the most uplifting and humbling thing’.
“I got letters from family and friends, including pictures from the protest, and a lot of faces were of friends from Sheffield I hadn’t seen for six years,” said the 29-year-old.
“There were tough times during those two months and it meant a lot that I was supported and being looked out for. I was thinking about my family and was concerned how they were coping, and it meant a lot to me to know how much support they had at home.”
Released on bail after 60 days in prison, he was eventually granted amnesty and returned to the UK on December 27, 100 days after being arrested.
Speaking to students six years after sitting in the same lecture hall himself, Kieron told them: “You are going to make decisions in your career which will take you to challenging places.
“Although hopefully not a Russian prison.”