20 Nov 2013

Russian court grants NZ activist bail

8:18 am on 20 November 2013

A Russian court has granted bail to Greenpeace activists including New Zealander David Haussmann.

Mr Haussmann and nine colleagues have now been granted bail but a second New Zealander, Jonathan Beauchamp, has yet to have his case heard.

Russia jailed 30 crew members of Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship in September after activists scaled an oil rig in the Barents Sea owned by energy giant Gazprom in protest against Arctic oil drilling.

Those released by courts in Saint Petersburg still face trial on charges that risk several years in jail.

The campaigners, from 18 countries, were first charged with piracy which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

The charges were later changed to hooliganism, which carries a punishment of up to seven years, although Greenpeace claims the piracy accusations have never formally been dropped, AFP reports.

David Haussmann and others will be freed pending a bail payment of 2 million roubles ($NZ73,500).

Speaking from the defendant's cage in court, Mr Haussmann said he would fly home to New Zealand to be with his three-year-old son and pregnant partner Sarah.

However Greenpeace lawyer Anton Beneslavsky says it is unlikely the activists will be allowed to leave the country soon.

His brother, Tony Haussmann, told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report there is relief at the bail decision but no indication when David Haussmann might return home.

"You've got to remember we're still stuck in the woods really, because they're still facing quite hideous charges and it's going to be a long road yet."