Activist's family 'waiting in limbo'

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 10/12/2013

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The family of detained Greenpeace crew member David Haussmann is still waiting for news on whether he might soon be home from Russia.

Mr Haussmann is one of the Arctic 30, imprisoned in September after their boat Arctic Sunrise was seized following a protest against drilling in the Arctic and climate change.

He was recently released on bail and told the Nelson Mail from his hotel in St Petersburg, that he hoped to be home by Christmas, but that his and others' situations were largely unknown.

The Nelson electrical engineer was among 28 crew and two journalists on board the Greenpeace ship when it was seized off Russia's Arctic coast in September and towed to a port near Murmansk. All were held in a detention centre there until they were moved to a St Petersburg prison, and eventually released on bail.

Australian-based Kiwi Jon Beauchamp was the other New Zealander on the ship, which approached an oil platform owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom on September 18, despite orders from the Russians not to do so.

The Arctic 30 were initially charged with piracy, but the charges were reduced to hooliganism, which carries a seven-year jail sentence.

Greenpeace reported in recent days that all of the foreign nationals [26 people from 17 nations] have had their passports returned after their release on bail. However, they do not have the correct visa allowing them to leave Russia.

Lawyers for the Arctic 30 have started to lodge applications with the investigative committee seeking exit visas for the non-Russian nationals. If the applications are approved, the foreign nationals would be allowed to leave Russia to await the ongoing investigations into the protest.

Mr Haussmann's brother, Tony Haussmann, said yesterday it appeared all were waiting for the investigative committee to decide what will happen.

"David's bail conditions last until December 26, but we're really just waiting in limbo."

Until Mr Haussmann's release from prison he had had little contact with his partner in Nelson, Sarah Watson, who is expecting their second child in February. He has since been in regular contact with Ms Watson and their young son.

He said recently it had been a huge relief being able to speak with them because he had not been able to communicate directly with his family at all.

Tony Haussmann said there remained a "hell of a lot of balls in the air". He and his sister were standing by in case either of them needed to go to Russia, but David was adamant no-one went there, he said.

"Whatever happens, we're still planning a barbecue on Christmas Day at Sarah and David's place," Tony Haussmann said.

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David Haussmann said recently that apart from his family, he was also greatly missing the Nelson summer, and the north Nelson community where he lived.

"I miss the people who live around us, and they've been so supportive of Sarah. They've held working bees and are making sure she's looked after.

"Nelson is such a beautiful place," he said.

- Nelson

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