Published: Tue, June 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Russian journalist held by police taken to hospital

Russian journalist held by police taken to hospital

Russian Federation has detained an investigative journalist for drugs offenses, triggering protests on Friday, with supporters claiming the charges were trumped-up and a punishment for his reporting. "Based on the result of examination by the ambulance doctors, a decision was made to direct the detainee to a medical facility for analysis".

Ivan Golunov, a special correspondent for the independent news site Meduza, was charged in a Moscow court with attempted large-scale sale of drugs, Russian state news agency TASS reported, citing Pavel Chikov of the human-rights organization Agora, whose lawyers defend the journalist. Police deny any wrongdoing.

Golunov's supporters claimed the drugs had been planted on him.

"We believe that the fulfillment of these requirements is crucial not only for the journalistic community of Russia, but also for Russian society as a whole", the joint statement read.

Police released pictures of a drug laboratory that Golunov allegedly ran but later admitted that only one of the photos was taken in the journalist's apartment.

"There are a lot of facts signaling that the drugs have been planted", the lawyer said.

Meduza founder and CEO Galina Timchenko told journalists outside court Golunov had received death threats over his reporting. "Tomorrow, they may plant drugs on me, on you, on anybody if we keep silent", Boris Vishnevsky, deputy head of the St. Petersburg legislative assembly, said at the demonstration.

A prominent Russian investigative journalist has been released from jail and placed under house arrest after being charged with intent to sell drugs in large quantities, according to his employer, the independent news site Meduza, citing his attorney.

In an open letter, hundreds of Russian journalists demanded Golunov's immediate release.

A presidential rights council member who visited Golunov in detention on Friday, Yeva Merkacheva, said in a statement that Golunov had shown her scratches on his back that he said were from police dragging him.

On Saturday, police detained several people trying to protest about the arrest outside Nikulinsky Court, with one placard condemning the case against the reporter as a "fabrication". "He also hasn't eaten", she said.

Police detained three people, an AFP video journalist saw. "We are convinced that Ivan Golunov is innocent".

A number of independent reporters in Russian Federation have been prosecuted, threatened or killed.

While journalists at Russia's dwindling number of independent media resources frequently face criminal probes, physical attacks and official pressure, such drugs accusations are not common.

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