Family of journalist held by Russia thank media for support as Cameron mulls intervention with Putin

The family of detained British journalist Kieron Bryan have praised the media for the support that has been shown to them over the past month.

Speaking after a visit to Parliament last week, they said it is their hope that politicians will pay attention and intervene to free Kieron from his detention in Russia.

Yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron said foreign office minister David Lidington was dealing with the case of Bryan and the jailed Greenpeace protestors on a daily basis.

He said: "I think this is a very serious issue and I have spoken about this in the house before, not least because one of my constituents is involved.

"I will look at every single intervention I could possibly make in order to help and if contact directly with President Putin would be helpful, then that is certainly something I would be prepared to consider."

The freelance videographer was arrested and detained by Russia alongside 29 others on a Greenpeace ship in the Arctic on 18 September. 

His plight has been widely covered in the UK media (particularly The Guardian), and more than 1,200 journalists – including the editors of all the major UK national titles – have signed a petition calling for immediate release.

The Devon family said they were pleased with the support they received in Westminster from MPs, but feel that more needs to be done to avoid Bryan facing the full force of the Russian justice system. Last week, charges against the ‘Arctic 30’ were changed from piracy to hooliganism, meaning the maximum jail term they now face is seven – rather than 15 – years in prison.

But the Bryans do not feel Kieron, who worked for the Mirror and Times newspaper groups before going freelance, should be facing any time in jail.

Speaking to Press Gazette alongside his father, brother Russell again reiterated that Kieron is a journalist, not an activist.

On why he chose to take the job of covering the protest, he said: “He loves producing video. He loves a good story. And this was a really good story, and a really good opportunity.

“We’ve spoken to so many people in the media who say, ‘we really feel for you because it could have been us’.”

Russell, who has been given compassionate leave by his employer, said that campaigning for Kieron’s release has now become his full-time job.

“If not, it’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life – I think about it all the time at the moment.”

Asked when they hope or expect to see Kieron home, Russell said: “Best situation? Home tomorrow.

“From my personal point of view, I try not to think about possible outcomes because everything we’ve expected so far has been not. Everything has been contrary to what we believe or would expect to happen. And I think the focus has to be doing everything we can here to help him.

“In terms of thinking ahead, thinking when it could be, it’s basically open ended. I don’t think we can fix on one date.”

Kieron’s father, Andy, added: “We can’t speculate. Because the hardest thing, especially for his mum, is not knowing. If we were told two months, at least we could say, right, in two months’ time he will be home.”

Russell said: “There have been other people who have been in prison, but in terms of the scale of it, the number of nations involved in what’s going on, it’s quite rare.

“And to be thrust into that situation, for mum and dad, and for myself, and the rest of the family, it is surreal.

“It’s not something that we particularly welcome. It certainly throws up different challenges – the legal world, the media world – it’s very hard. I guess you end up doing whatever it takes, really.”

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