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Wife of activist in Russia urges Australian help

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ROD McGUIRK | November 18, 2013 09:34 PM EST | AP

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The wife of an Australian Greenpeace activist under arrest in Russia over a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic has called for more intervention from the Australian government to secure his freedom.

A Russian court on Monday rejected Australian Colin Russell's application for bail and ordered him held in custody until Feb. 24.

His wife Christine Russell said outside Australia's Parliament House on Tuesday that she was left disappointed by a meeting with Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials on Monday about the amount of government involvement the case.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had not raised the case of the 59-year-old Greenpeace ship radio operator with her Russian counterpart since early October, she said.

"I would like to see a higher level of diplomatic intervention from Minister Bishop," Christine Russell told reporters.

She added that leaders of Britain, France and Germany had intervened on the behalf of their citizens among the 30 arrested on a Greenpeace ship seized by the Russian coast guard on Sept. 18.

All 30 were charged with hooliganism, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years. Christine Russell described the court process as "an absurd circus."

Christine Russell said her husband had lost weight while in Russian custody.

Bishop's department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.