4 Jan 2014

Minister mulling cost of consular support for Greenpeace

6:31 pm on 4 January 2014

Australian foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop has flagged the idea of asking Greenpeace to contribute to the cost of providing consular support to one of its personnel imprisoned after an incident in the Arctic 30.

Colin Russell is back home in Tasmania, after spending two months in jail in Russia. He and 29 others were detained after an attempt was made to board an oil rig owned by Gazprom in September.

Ms Bishop said Australian taxpayers are entitled to ask why they should be footing the bill for helping Mr Russell.

She said Greenpeace acknowledges it deliberately provoked a response from the Russian authorities.

The cases were dropped last month after an anmesty on hooliganism was passed by the Russian parliament.

Greenpeace New Zealand is dismissing the suggestion the group should contribute to the cost of consular assistance for activists detained in Russia.

The group included two New Zealanders, but Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid says the organisation does not expect to be charged for consular assistance to its men.

She says they did a brilliant job in supporting the men who were charged with a crime they did not commit.

"Any time that we do any action we're willing to take the consequences of any laws that we break, in this case they charged us with laws that we didn't break and with a crime that we didn't commit."

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade says it has no plans to charge Greenpeace for consular assistance.