The Westmorland GazetteBail granted for Cumbrian man held in Indian jail (From The Westmorland Gazette)

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Bail granted for Cumbrian man held in Indian jail

The Westmorland Gazette: BAILED: John Armstrong BAILED: John Armstrong

A CUMBRIAN man held for months in an Indian jail has been granted bail after an intense campaign by family, friends and British politicians, including an intervention the Prime Minister David Cameron.

John Armstrong, from Wigton, was one of a number of former British soldiers who were locked up in south-east India after being arrested on board an American-owned ship.

Mr Armstrong was a security guard on board the MV Seaman Guard Ohio when he was arrested and held in Puzhal Prison in Chennai.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart said he was ‘delighted that hard work and common sense have finally prevailed’.

Mr Armstrong is expected to be freed before Friday and have closer contact with their families.

Mr Stewart said: "Today's outcome follows months of very, very delicate negotiations between Ministers, advisors, lawyers and Indian officials. I and my five parliamentary colleagues, all of whom represent affected constituents, have spent a great deal of time lobbying the Foreign Office and pushing as strongly as we could for the release of the men, mindful always of the very sensitive diplomatic implications of their arrest.

“The news of today's bail order is very, very welcome, and we need now to focus on the men's wellbeing now that they are out of prison, and attend to any urgent medical needs, as we assess the next steps."

Mr Cameron raised the plight of the detained men with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Indian authorities detained 33 of the 35 crew members, although the exact reason for their arrest remains unclear.

Their patrol vessel operated by US maritime security firm AdvanFort, was intercepted by a heavily-armed Indian coastguard vessel in the Indian Ocean when heading for Egypt.

At the time of their arrest, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh said the crew had failed to produce documents allowing them to carry weapons and ammunition in Indian waters.

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