11/21/2013 03:52 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Alexandre Paul, Canadian Greenpeace Activist, Freed On Bail By Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - The two Canadians who were among 30 people arrested in Russia following a Greenpeace protest in the Arctic now have been granted bail.

Greenpeace spokesman Diego Creimer said Thursday that Alexandre Paul of Montreal had won bail, but said that both he and Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ont., who was granted bail Tuesday, have not yet been released.

Paul's mother, Nicole Paul, released a statement through Greenpeace on Thursday welcoming the news he had been granted bail.

“I’m so happy that my son is going to be out of jail soon, and I hope he’ll be allowed to come home to us,” she said. “I’m so proud of him and everything he stands for.”

Bail has been granted this week to 26 of the people on the Greenpeace ship, and the bail hearings were to continue Friday. The rulings by judges in St. Petersburg could moderate the strong international criticism of Russia over the case.

Russian jails have freed on bail 11 of the 30 arrested following the Greenpeace protest two months ago but the charges against them still stand.

Brazilian activist Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, who was released late Wednesday, was the first to walk free. Her lawyer, Sergei Golubok, said Maciel could move about St. Petersburg and was given back her passport, but she "is not going to leave Russia before the situation is cleared up."

Ten others were freed Thursday, including Russians Andrei Allakhverdov, Yekaterina Zaspa and Denis Sinyakov, as well as Camila Speziale from Argentina, Tomasz Dziemianczuk from Poland, Anne Mie Jensen from Denmark, Sini Saarela from Finland, Cristian D'Alessandro from Italy, Francesco Pisanu from France and David Haussman from New Zealand.

The state ITAR-Tass news agency carried a statement from Russia's Federal Migration Service as saying that those granted bail can't leave Russia until criminal proceedings against them end.

But the agency also quoted a well-connected Russian lawyer, Genri Reznik, as saying that the Russian law doesn't ban them from leaving Russia pending their trial. He added that charges against them will likely be dropped under an upcoming amnesty marking the 20th anniversary of Russia's constitution.

Greenpeace will "continue to keep up public pressure to get them released," its leader Kumi Naidoo said in Warsaw, where Greenpeace was an observer at U.N. climate talks.

"They have been through a very, very tough time. The prison experience has been extremely challenging for them to endure," Naidoo told The Associated Press.

All of those detained were initially charged with piracy, but investigators later changed the charge to hooliganism, which carries a potential sentence of seven years. Bail has been set at 2 million rubles ($61,500).

"Our case is not closed yet," said activist Andrei Allakhverdov, one of the three Russians released Thursday. "We will fight for the case to be closed and for us to be found not guilty."

The two other Russians freed were ship doctor Yekaterina Zaspa and photographer Denis Sinyakov.

Greenpeace lawyers said an appeal will be filed to release Australian Colin Russell, who was denied bail Monday. Sinyakov told reporters that he believes that a decision to grant bail to the Greenpeace team came from the top, and Russell was denied bail simply because his case was first and the judge hadn't got the signal in time.

The 30 were arrested in September after the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, entered Arctic waters. Some of the activists tried to scale an offshore drilling platform owned by the state natural gas giant Gazprom.

Greenpeace contends Arctic drilling poses potentially catastrophic environmental dangers. Russia bristles at any criticism of its oil and gas industry, which is the backbone of the country's economy.

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that while Greenpeace activists were pursuing noble goals, they were wrong in trying to scale the platform because they jeopardized its safety.

"Not all means are good for achieving even noble goals," he said.

On Wednesday, three Greenpeace protesters scaled Montreal's Biosphere structure in support of the detained activists. Montreal police said the three, who climbed the giant globe-like structure to hang a banner, will be in court in February on mischief charges.


Also on HuffPost

The Craziest Photos Of The Oilsands