Former Sheffield student charged with piracy

Kieron Bryan, a freelance videographer from the UK, aboard the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise.
Kieron Bryan, a freelance videographer from the UK, aboard the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise.
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A former Sheffield University student is one of two people to be charged with piracy by Russian investigators - which if he is found guilty could result in a 15-year prison sentence.

Kieron Bryan, a freelance video journalist, was aboard Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, which was protesting against oil drilling in Arctic waters.

He is not a member of Greenpeace but was hired by the organisation to document a voyage around Norway and the trip to the Barents Sea, where the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom is preparing to begin offshore oil drilling.

The 29-year-old was one of 30 campaigners who were detained after an incident in which some activists attempted to climb on to an oil platform.

Kieron studied in Sheffield for four years, taking a degree in English literature before completing a one-year course in broadcast journalism in 2008.

The Greenpeace ship was stopped as it circled near the Prazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea, the first offshore rig of its kind.

A Brazilian woman has also been charged.

Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo condemned the charges, saying: “It is an extreme and disproportionate charge. A charge of piracy is being laid against men and women whose only crime is to be possessed of a conscience. This is an outrage and represents an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest.”

The group of activists had already been ordered to spend two months in custody in the northern city of Murmansk, pending an investigation.

Oil giants ExxonMobil, Eni and Statoil, along with other Norwegian firms, plan to drill for oil in Arctic waters in the coming months.

Greenpeace has warned an oil spill would cause significant environmental damage and warns of fossil fuel extraction contributing to climate change.