Greenpeace pair back in New Zealand

HOME: Greenpeace activist David John Haussmann has returned home.
HOME: Greenpeace activist David John Haussmann has returned home.

Kiwi environmental activists who spent a "traumatic" couple of months in a Russian prison have arrived home.

David Haussmann and Jonathan Beauchamp were arrested following a protest at a Gazprom-operated oil platform in September.

Mr Haussmann and Mr Beauchamp were among 30 activists who tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya oil rig on September 18.

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said they were granted exit visas after Russian authorities voted for their amnesty.

Ms McDiarmid said all 30 activists were first held on piracy charges, punishable by up to 15 years' jail.

The charges were changed to hooliganism charges before being dropped.

The activists spent two months in prison.

Ms McDiarmid said they should never have been charged in the first place.

"It is ridiculous that they were locked up for months over a peaceful protest to protect the Arctic," she said.

"They were charged for a crime they never committed."

Their plight had, however, "raised the profile of what is going on in the Arctic".

Ms McDiarmid said she saw Mr Haussmann and Mr Beauchamp yesterday morning, when they first arrived.

"They are relieved to be home. They have had a pretty traumatic couple of months."

Mr Haussmann's Nelson-based partner Sarah Watson is expecting their second child in February.

His brother, Marlborough-based Tony Haussmann, said the family needed time to gather themselves. He said his brother was resting and recovering from his ordeal.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has publically questioned the protesters' intentions to protect the Arctic. He alleged they were trying to hurt Russia's economic interests. 

The Dominion Post