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Russia sentences online journalist to prison

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 6 September 2016.

In response to a Russian court sentencing Zhalaudi Geriev, a journalist with the online news site Caucasian Knot, to three years imprisonment, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The charges against Zhalaudi Geriev were clearly fabricated and intended to silence him as a journalist,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “The court in Chechnya demonstrated the government's efforts to intimidate media outlets and independent journalists.”

Background

Zhalaudi Geriev was arrested on April 16, 2016 for alleged drug trafficking under article 228 of the criminal code, although he was first questioned about his plans to travel to Syria. According to Geriev's lawyer, his confession was obtained under pressure and Geriev later withdrew it. On Sept. 6, 2016, a court declared him guilty, sentencing Guriev to three years imprisonment.

The independent news site Caucasian Knot covers the Caucasus region and has received several journalistic awards for independent reporting since its launch in 2001.

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2015, and receives a score of 6.50 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2016.

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