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"Any regrets? No": Greenpeace activist talks about rats, fleas and leeches in Russian prison

Phil Ball, from Chipping Norton in Oxford, chats to Fred about his experience Photo: ITV Meridian

After spending two months in a Russian prison for 23 hours a day, Phil Ball from Chipping Norton is glad to be home.

The Greenpeace activist was arrested back in September 2013 after protesting against drilling in the Arctic, along with 30 other protesters.

Phil Ball was in prison in Russia for 2 months Credit: Greenpeace

Conditions in the prison were not good, with dirty cells and being in them for 23 hours a day.

"It's a shocking place," Phil said. "It's a different prison system as well. It's more about punishment and revenge than making you not offend again. There were rats in the cell as well as leeches and fleas. It was cold and damp."

But Phil found that the conditions weren't the worse thing about being locked up.

"You can endure the conditions. It was like a bad camping trip. We didn't know how long we'd be staying. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. We could have been there for 15 years."

After being arrested for piracy and put in jail, did he have any regrets?

"No. Obviously I felt awful for how it had affected my family but we went there to carry out a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling. The blame for the response is at the doors of the Kremlin for the massive over reaction to what was a peaceful protest."

Having been in prison for 2 months on charges for piracy that could have landed him 15 years in jail, he was finally released in November.

He eventually left Russia and returned home, going back to his partner and three children in time for Christmas and the New Year.

Phil said, "It was an amazing moment when I came in through the front door and was met by my family. We're all still readjusting a little bit but it's definitely good to be back home and be with them."