Wife of activist in Russia urges Australian help

AP News
Posted: Nov 19, 2013 1:48 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The wife of an Australian Greenpeace activist under arrest in Russia over a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic has called for more intervention from the Australian government to secure his freedom.

A Russian court on Monday rejected Australian Colin Russell's application for bail and ordered him held in custody until Feb. 24.

His wife Christine Russell said outside Australia's Parliament House on Tuesday that she was left disappointed by a meeting with Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials on Monday about the amount of government involvement the case.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has not raised the case of the 59-year-old Greenpeace ship radio operator with her Russian counterpart since early October, her department confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.

"I would like to see a higher level of diplomatic intervention from Minister Bishop," Christine Russell told reporters.

She added that leaders of Britain, France and Germany had intervened on the behalf of their citizens among the 30 arrested on a Greenpeace ship seized by the Russian coast guard on Sept. 18.

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All 30 were charged with hooliganism, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years. Christine Russell described the court process as "an absurd circus."

Christine Russell said her husband had lost weight while in Russian custody.

The Foreign Department said in a statement the Australian government continued to urge an early resolution of this case. Bishop has expressed her concerns about the severity of the charge, the statement said.