Six Greenpeace protesters were aboard a flight bound for Paris that departed from the St. Petersburg airport, while one protester took a train to cross Russia's border into Finland, Greenpeace said Friday in a release.
"We're leaving Russia, it's over; we're finally truly free," said British protester Alex Harris. "People I will never meet have campaigned for our release; they wrote emails, they marched, they protested, they made a noise that became deafening, even in the Kremlin. I promise I will repay those people by using my freedom to stand up for the Arctic."
Fourteen of the Arctic 30 received exit visas Thursday and 11 were issued visas Friday, leaving just one more visa to be issued before all 26 non-Russian nationals have exit documents, Greenpeace said.
Twenty-eight activists and two freelance journalists were jailed after a protest at an Arctic oil platform operated by Gazprom. The Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise was boarded by Russian security officers Sept. 19 and towed to Murmansk.
Detainee Phil Ball said Friday that while there were celebrations, the detentions should have never happened.
"One hundred days ago today we were seized in international waters by armed commandos. We faced ridiculous charges, piracy then hooliganism, and spent two months in jail for a crime we didn't commit," Ball said. "We were guilty of nothing more than having a conscience."
The Greenpeace activists and journalists were notified earlier this week the charges had been dropped, the organization said Thursday. Earlier this month, Russian lawmakers passed an amnesty law that was expected to bring about the release of many high-profile defendants and prisoners, including the Greenpeace activists.
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