The Russian court extends the detention of journalist Alsu Kurmasheva until June | Freedom of Journalists News

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Russian Americans are accused of failing to register as ‘foreign agents’ and spreading ‘disinformation’.

A Russian court has extended the detention of journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who works for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), until June 5. he says.

The editor from Prague, 47, was to be arrested last year in the southwestern Russian city of Kazan for failing to register as a “foreign agent” and for spreading “disinformation” under surveillance laws imposed after Russia annexed Ukraine in 2022.

Appearing in court in Kazan on Monday, Kurmasheva smiled and complained about the poor condition of the cell in which she was kept, an Agence France-Presse reporter said.

Kurmasheva, who holds US and Russian passports, entered Russia in May to deal with the emergency. He was first arrested on June 2 at the airport while waiting for his return flight, and his passports were confiscated.

According to court documents, he was fined 10,000 rubles ($108) in October for failing to register his US passport with Russian authorities.

With the help of the United States Congress, his employer, RFE/RL, is classified by Russia as a foreign agent, a charge that is brought because it receives foreign money for political activities.

In 2022, he edited a book called Saying No to War, a series of questions and stories from Russia against Moscow’s campaign against Ukraine.

In December, pro-government media reported that the book led Russian investigators to open a new case against Kurmasheva, accusing her of spreading false information about the Russian military.

Failure to register as a foreign agent is punishable by five years in prison while spreading false information carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.

‘Unfounded’ accusations

RFE/RL described his arrest as “horrific” and said he was detained “because he has an American passport”.

“The charges against Alsu are baseless. It’s not a legal process. It’s a political conspiracy, and Alsu and his family are paying a terrible price for no reason,” said RFE/RL director Stephen Capus on Monday.

“Russia must end this fraud and release Alsu immediately without condition,” he added.

Rights groups have accused Russia of using repressive laws to crack down on Kremlin critics and independent journalists.

Kurmasheva is the second US journalist to be arrested in Russia since Moscow’s war in Ukraine began.

A reporter for the Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich he has been imprisoned in Moscow for more than 20 years on espionage charges that carry a 20-year prison sentence.

He has denied the charges.

Gershkovich and Paul WhelanAn American convicted of espionage in 2020 and imprisoned in Russia for 16 years has been designated by the US government as “wrongfully imprisoned”.

The designation means that Washington considers the charges against him to be false and is committed to working for his release.

The US State Department said last year that Kurmasheva’s arrest “appears to be another case of the Russian government persecuting US citizens”, and her supporters have been pressuring Washington to “wrongfully arrest” her.

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