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  1. ITV Report

Britons told they must remain in Russian jail until trial

Kieron Bryan is led out of the dock in a Russian court in hand cuffs Photo:

Two British men accused of piracy by Russia have been told they must remain in jail until their trial begins next month.

Freelance videographer Kieron Bryan and activist Phillip Ball were among 30 people arrested by Russian coast guards in the Arctic.

Greenpeace insists they were staging a demonstration against oil drilling, but Russia has charged all 30 with piracy, and and hinted that further charges may follow.

Writing in a letter to his family, Mr Bryan speaks of being locked up for 23 hours at a time.

Bryan and Ball had appealed against an order that could see them detained until the end of November. The court, in the northern port city of Murmansk, has already denied bail to four Russians held over the protest.

Russia's Investigative Committee has also said that searches of vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, revealed morphine and poppy straw, an ingredient for heroin and opiates, as well as equipment with potential spying uses.

Activists rappel from a Russian oil rig in the Arctic Credit: Greenpeace

Greenpeace lawyer Alexander Mukhortov said the ship's American captain legally kept morphine in his safe for medical purposes and that the equipment was a sonar device widely used at sea.

Mocking the suggestion that drugs were found on the ship, Greenpeace tweeted: "We are waiting for it [Russian authorities] to find an atomic bomb and a striped elephant."

A Greenpeace vessel approaches the oil rig Credit: Greenpeace

The Arctic Sunrise was boarded by Russian coast guards after the protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig on September 18.

The charity subsequently released a video appearing to show Russian coast guards approaching the activists on inflatable boats brandishing guns and knives.

Greenpeace says the piracy charges are absurd and that the conditions of detention for the detainees, who come for 18 countries, have in some cases violated their civil rights.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the activists were clearly not pirates but that their protest did violate the law.

The case has already upset Moscow's international ties, with the Netherlands launching legal proceedings against Russia, saying it had unlawfully detained the activists and others.