By Maria Lopez Conde, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilian activist Ana Paula Maciel, who was jailed by Russian authorities in September, has been freed from a prison in Saint Petersburg after Greenpeace posted a R$140,000 bail for her release, O Globo reported. Maciel was taken into custody while participating in a protest against drilling in the Arctic sponsored by the international environmental NGO.
Maciel was reportedly the first of the group of 28 activists and two journalists to be freed after posting bail. They will not be allowed to leave Russia, but are free to circulate around the country and receive visits.
Maciel’s mother, Rosangela Maciel, was pleased with the development and is planning to reunite with her daughter in Russia this week.
“My heart of a mother always told me to keep the faith. I can hardly wait to have my beloved daughter in my arms and back at home. We know the case is still not over, but my daughter is a warrior and will overcome all of this in the end,” she said through Greenpeace’s website.
Seventeen other activists were also freed at the same time after Greenpeace posted their bail. Eleven are awaiting a Russian court’s decision regarding the possibility to await trial from outside of prison. Australian protester Colin Russell, however, will remain in prison until February 24th.
The Arctic Sunrise, the Greenpeace ship on which the activists were traveling, was captured on September 19th after the protesters attempted to climb up a platform owned by Russian gas company Gazprom in the Arctic. The activists were first accused of piracy, but those charges were later dropped. The Greenpeace members are now accused of vandalism and are likely to face a future trial.
The imprisonment of the Brazilian activist prompted a response from the upper echelons of the country’s government. At the beginning of October, President Dilma Rousseff vowed to help the activist return home through social network, Twitter.
“I determined that the Ministry of Foreign Relations will give all assistance needed to Brazilian Ana Paula Maciel, who has been held in Russia due to an environmental protest. I asked Minister Figuereido [to establish] a high-level contact with the Russian government to find a solution for Ana Paula,” Rousseff wrote.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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