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Dissident journalist, previously ordered released, now freed after 10 months forced confinement in psychiatric hospital

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders welcomes journalist Andrei Novikov's release on 18 December 2007 after being confined against his will to a psychiatric hospital in the northern city of Rybinsk for more than 10 months. He has nonetheless been told that he will have to report to the hospital twice a month until a medical commission re-examines him in six months' time.

"We are relieved to learn that Novikov is free and we hope he will recover from this ordeal as quickly as possible," the press freedom organisation said. "Nonetheless, he should never have been forcibly hospitalised. The government must put a stop to the re-emergence of this primitive way of dealing with citizens considered troublesome."

Novikov's release was ordered by a court at the end of a hearing in Rybinsk on 6 December. A reporter for the online news agency Chechenpress, he was arrested in November 2006 and charged under article 280 of the criminal code with "publicly inciting constitutional change by means of force." After many weeks in pre-trial detention, he was transferred to the psychiatric hospital on 14 February.

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