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Reporter released after 36 hours detention in Ukraine

A Scottish-based freelance journalist currently reporting from the Ukraine was released last night after being detained for 36 hours by Kiev security forces.

On its website, Russia Today reports that Graham Phillips was fine and feeling ‘ok’  after being questioned and spending the night in detention.

Graham was transferred to Zaporozhye where he stayed the night, after being arrested at a checkpoint near Mariupol on Tuesday morning.

He said the Ukraine’s authorities had not charged him with anything.

Graham told RT: “All my work is in order, no charges, no deportation, and no one laid a hand on me in anger. The Ukrainian authorities treated me fairly.

“I don’t have my phone or possessions right now, hope to get them back tomorrow. Thanks for all messages of support – everything is ok.”

He thanked his employers for their support, and also expressed his gratitude to Simon Smith, the British Ambassador in the Ukraine.

He said: “Support means a lot to me, I expressed all my views to Ukrainian authorities, as stated. They disagreed with some, but I’m free and fine.”

In a statement issued before his release, RT said it was “very concerned about his situation” after repeated attempts to speak to representatives of the Ukrainian security services were rebuffed.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s Defence Ministry was quoted yesterday as saying Mr Phillips had been detained for “filming facilities which are forbidden from being filmed”.

Fears had been growing for the safety of the freelance journalist after he was stopped at the checkpoint on Tuesday morning.

The 35-year-old had been posting videos to his Youtube account everyday, describing the extent of the unrest in the country.

Graham (pictured) was working as a stringer for RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and the Kremlin-funded TV station’s own website claims he was detained by the National Guard at a check point in Mariupol.

Graham is originally from Nottingham, in the East Midlands, but later went to secondary school and University in Scotland.

Early on Tuesday morning, RT stringer Graham called the RT office to say he had been detained by the National Guard at a check point in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine.

In his phone call Graham had earlier told RT: “I’m sitting at a blockade post in a portacabin. The dialogue is quite interrogation oriented.

He added that he was asked if he is a spy, while his car was searched and his laptop was confiscated. However, he noted that he is being treated well.

Said Graham: “At the moment I’m with the Ukrainian forces … near Mariupol. I’ve been here for over two hours and I’ve been described, my status, as being detained in terms of I can’t leave.

“I would also say I’m being treated OK by them. I believe that someone is coming. They’ve done checks on my documentation.

“They found my reports and clips I’ve done and they’re now looking through them asking me my position on things, asking if I’m a spy, and asking me quite thorough questions.

“They’ve checked all my documentation and photos, my laptop and the car – so that’s who I’m with at the moment.”

Following the call, RT  lost contact with the British journalist and blogger, while the UK said it was ready to provide assistance.

A source familiar with the incident said that the National Guard was reportedly ready to release Graham, but only on condition that he deleted completely all the footage he had recorded near the roadblock.

As the journalist refused to do so, his captors then called Ukrainian Security Service, who confiscated all his photo and video recording equipment, and decided to send him to Kiev, the source said.

On its website, RT said: “Our stringer Graham Phillips was arrested at a checkpoint by people who, according to him, when we last spoke, introduced themselves as the National Guard and asked for his papers.

“After this, the connection with the journalist was lost, we still cannot get in touch with Graham, we are extremely worried about what could happen to him. It is even more worrying after the events, which, as we all saw happened to the LifeNews TV correspondents.”

After being contacted by RT, the UK Foreign Office said it is looking into Graham’s detention and “stand ready to provide consular assistance.”