Fri, 18 Oct 2019

Lawyers for Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov have appealed against his pretrial house arrest on a narcotics charge he denies.

Lawyer Sergei Badamshin said on June 11 that Golunov's house arrest was appealed with the Moscow City Court, as Russian celebrities, journalists, activists, and other supporters of the journalist prepared for a march in the capital to call for his release.

Golunov, a well-known investigative reporter with Latvia-based online news agency Meduza, was arrested on June 6, prompting an outcry over what critics see as politically motivated charges.

On June 8, a Moscow court placed Golunov under pretrial house arrest for a period of two months, which can be extended by court order.

Golunov, 36, was charged with attempting to sell a large amount of illegal drugs -- a charge he and his supporters reject as a retaliation by Moscow authorities for his reporting on corruption among officials.

Golunov could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if tried and convicted.

Golunov suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib during or after his arrest.

Organizers of the June 12 march in Moscow said that they will not seek state permission for the rally, where journalists will hold articles by Golunov.

Demonstrators say they will demand the reporter's release as well as punishment for those responsible for what they said was the planting of illegal drugs and paraphernalia in Golunov's backpack and in his Moscow apartment.

Golunov's arrest has provoked outrage from the country's media, with three leading non-state newspapers -- Vedomosti, Kommersant, and RBK -- publishing identical front pages that question the motives behind the move.

The Paris-based press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders has warned that the arrest could mark a 'significant escalation in the harassment' of independent media in Russia.

In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that Russia has 'a long history of politically motivated charges against independent reporters.'

With reporting by Meduza and Interfax

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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