RFE/RL Journalist Marks 5 Months In Russian Prison

RFE/RL Journalist Marks 5 Months In Russian Prison

American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva marked five months in Russian detention on Monday – a grim milestone that her family hoped she would never see.

Kurmasheva, a reporter for RFE/RL, has been imprisoned in Kazan since October 18 without consular access—her right as an American—and has been deprived of contact with her two daughters and husband for months. Speaking to TURAN's correspondent last week, the family said they hoped the U.S. State Department would quickly designate Alsu as ‘wrongfully detained.’”

Asked at yesterday's briefing by TURAN's Washington correspondent why it was taking this long for the Department to making the designation, spokesman Vedant Patel said: "There are a number of factors that go into these kinds of assessments...  But this is something that we’re continuing to work around the clock."

According to Patel, when someone is detained as a dual national in Russia, the Kremlin has a long track record of not giving respectful consular access consistent with the consular convention as it pertains to the other country.  "There is a clear track record of this. And so it should be no surprise that they are conducting themselves in this way.  But we are continuing to be deeply engaged on this and work it around the clock," he added.

He went on to conclude:  "We believe her detention to be just another in a long line of the Russian Federation’s actions of arbitrarily detaining journalists who are just doing their jobs.  I will let them speak to any kind of a sham explanation that they are providing."

Kurmasheva, who has worked for RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service for some 25 years, traveled to Tatarstan last May because of a family emergency. Her passport was confiscated upon her return flight on June 2, and she was detained in October with charges of failing to ask the Russian government to register her as a "foreign agent." Two months later, she was charged with spreading falsehoods about the Russian military.

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