A journalist with dual Russian and US citizenship faces as much as five years in prison after being detained in Russia and charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent,” her employer said Thursday.
(Bloomberg) — A journalist with dual Russian and US citizenship faces as much as five years in prison after being detained in Russia and charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent,” her employer said Thursday.
Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor based in Prague at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, traveled to Russia in May to attend to a family emergency and was detained at Kazan airport in Tatarstan as she attempted to return on June 2, RFE/RL said in a statement. Officials confiscated her Russian and US passports, accusing her of failing to register the American document with the authorities, and later fined her.
Kurmasheva, who works in RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service, was waiting for the return of her passports when the new charge of being a “foreign agent” was announced. Law enforcement in Kazan allege she carried out “a targeted collection of military information” via the internet in September last year that could be used against Russia’s security, according to the Tatar-Inform news service, which published a video of her being led away by four masked men.
“Alsu is a highly respected colleague, devoted wife, and dedicated mother to two children,” RFE/RL acting President Jeffrey Gedmin said. “She needs to be released so she can return to her family immediately.”
Her detention follows the arrest of US journalist Evan Gershkovich in March while on assignment for the Wall Street Journal in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. Gershkovich, who’s in pre-trial detention in Moscow on espionage charges that he and the newspaper deny, was the first American reporter held on spying allegations in Russia since the Cold War.
The State Department has determined he’s been “wrongfully detained,” opening the way for the US to negotiate on his behalf to try to secure his release. The Kremlin said he was caught “red handed,” but has provided no evidence.
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