A Russian court on Monday ordered a Russian-American journalist, detained last week and accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, be held until early December, according to her employer.
Alsosu Kurmashevaeditor of the Tatar-Bashkir service of the US government-funded radio station Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, appeared in a closed court hearing in the city of Kazan, capital of the republic of Tatarstan.
The radio service said that The court had ordered that she continue to be detained until December 5, and rejected her lawyer’s request for preventive measures other than imprisonment.
Was the second American journalist detained in Russia this year, after Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges in March. Gershkovich remains detained.
Kurmasheva is accused of failing to register as a foreign agent and was collecting information about Russian military activity, according to the state-run Tatar-Inform news website. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison.
Kurmasheva, who lives in Prague, was stopped on June 2 at Kazan International Airport after traveling to Russia for a family emergency on May 20, according to RFE/RL.
Airport staff confiscated her Russian and US passports and was fined for not registering her US passport. He was waiting for his passports to be returned when the new charges were filed Wednesday, according to RFE/RL.
“At that point it was clear that they had nothing against her, so maybe it was like a matter of intimidation. And then it took them three months to decide how they would present her case against her,” according to Galina Arapova of the Russian Media Defense Center.
Arapova told The Associated Press that the charges against Kurmasheva are a “sophisticated form of censorship”. He added that Kurmasheva’s case is different from Gershkovich’s, although both are American citizens.
“They attacked her because she is a Russian journalist. Secondly, she belongs to a foreign media outlet that was already considered a foreign agent and with which the Russian authorities had a long-standing conflict over foreign agent legislation,” she said.
RFE/RL was instructed to register as a foreign agent with Russian authorities in 2017, and has challenged Russia’s foreign agent laws before the European Court of Human Rights. The organization has received millions of dollars in fines from the Russian government.
The Committee to Protect Journalists called the charges against Kurmasheva “false” and said her detention “is further evidence that Russia is determined to suppress independent reporting.”
Kurmasheva reported on ethnic minorities in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan in Russia, including projects to protect and preserve the Tatar language and cultureaccording to his employer.
Gershkovich and The Wall Street Journal deny the accusations against him, and the US government considers him unjustly detained.
Russian authorities have not detailed evidence to support the accusations. The judicial process against him is closed because the prosecutor’s office says that some details are classified.
(with information from AP)