Greenpeace activist 'won't be back for Christmas' despite amnesty

Banbury Cake: Phil Ball Phil Ball

FATHER-of-three and Greenpeace activist Phil Ball could still face Christmas in St Petersburg despite an amnesty issued by Russia’s parliament.

Mr Ball, from Chipping Norton, is one of the so-called Arctic 30 – a team of 28 campaigners and two journalists arrested and imprisoned for hooliganism earlier this year.

The team was detained in September after Russian troops boarded their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, during a protest about drilling.

They spent two months in jail before being freed to await their court hearings.

The Russian Duma yesterday voted to add their names to an amnesty for the activists.

Although it means Mr Ball will not face charges, he does not believe it will bring him home for Christmas with his family.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail on Tuesday, before the decision was made, he said: “I think even if we do get the amnesty, there is still a big doubt as to whether or not they can process the paperwork before Christmas.

“I have come to terms with the fact I will have to spend Christmas in St Petersburg.

“I am sure we will make the best of a bad job and share a bit of the Blitz spirit, but we have not talked about what we will do on the day itself.”

He said although he was prepared to accept the amnesty so he could be reunited with his two sons, daughter and partner in Oxfordshire, he would not see it as an acceptance of guilt.

He said: “Of course I will accept it, I have an obligation to my family, but I will not be thankful and grateful. I have had two months of my life stolen from me. It feels like I have been taken hostage.”

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