Belfast Telegraph

Sir Paul urges release of Arctic 30

Sir Paul McCartney has written a personal letter to the Russian president calling for the release of Greenpeace activists arrested during a protest against drilling in the Arctic.

The ex-Beatle told Vladimir Putin that the 28 campaigners and two freelance journalists, who have been in detention since September, should be reunited with their families.

The so-called Arctic 30, who were this week transferred from Murmansk to St Petersburg, face charges of hooliganism.

Sir Paul, who has met Mr Putin in the Kremlin, wrote: "Forty-five years ago I wrote a song about Russia for the White Album, back when it wasn't fashionable for English people to say nice things about your country.

"That song had one of my favourite Beatles lines in it: 'Been away so long I hardly knew the place, gee it's good to be back home.' Could you make that come true for the Greenpeace prisoners?"

This morning, after releasing the letter on his website, he tweeted: "The Russian Ambassador kindly responded saying that their situation 'is not properly represented in the world media'."

Sir Paul then tweeted: "It would be great if this misunderstanding could be resolved and the protesters can be home with their families in time for Christmas," and finished by tweeting: "We live in hope. Paul McCartney."

Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, said: "Sir Paul's letter is an extraordinary and beautiful plea for justice from one of the 20th century's most famous icons, and it went straight into the inbox of President Putin himself.

"We know some of the Arctic 30 are able to listen to the radio in their cells, and some of them are no doubt Beatles fans, so this news would be music to their ears.

"Sir Paul is hugely respected in Russia, and so we hope his letter brings the day closer when those 30 brave men and women are back with their families."

Greenpeace said more than two million people have sent letters and emails calling for the Arctic 30 to be released.

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