When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Hope for Greenpeace activist Phil Ball as amnesty bill is amended
A FATHER-of-three from Chipping Norton who was arrested in Russia is one step closer to being able to return to the UK after he and fellow activists were added to an amnesty bill.
Phil Ball, 42, from Chipping Norton, is one of the so-called Arctic 30 - a team detained on September after Russian troops boarded their ship the Arctic Sunrise.
The soldiers came on board after four Greenpeace members tried to board a Russian oil platform to protest about drilling in the Arctic.
The Russian Duma has voted today to amend an amnesty decree for defendants charged with hooliganism to include the 28 activists and two journalists.
There will be a final vote at 4pm Moscow time, but the only way the Arctic 30 would be removed from the amnesty is if the entire bill is rejected - an outcome regarded as extremely unlikely.
In a statement, Arctic Sunrise captain Peter Willcox said: “I might soon be going home to my family, but I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place.
“We sailed north to bear witness to a profound environmental threat but our ship was stormed by masked men wielding knives and guns.
“Now it’s nearly over and we may soon be truly free, but there’s no amnesty for the Arctic.
“We may soon be home, but the Arctic remains a fragile global treasure under assault by oil companies and the rising temperatures they’re driving. We went there to protest against this madness. We were never the criminals here.”