U.S. Condemns Russian Decision To Extend Detention of RFE/RL Journalist

U.S. Condemns Russian Decision To Extend Detention of RFE/RL Journalist

The United States on Monday condemned the latest extension of RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva’s pretrial detention after a court in Kazan ordered her to remain in custody until June, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

"We are deeply concerned about her detention in Russia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told a daily briefing.

Kurmasheva is the second U.S. journalist to be arrested in Russia since the start of Vladimir Putin's military offensive in Ukraine. She has been in prison for nearly six months and faces 15 years in prison on charges of spreading "false information".

"The charges against Ms. Kurmasheva are just another sign of the weakness of Putin’s regime.  And with respect to her condition, I would refer you to the embassy officials who were there at her hearing," Miller said when responding to TURAN's questions.

During yesterday’s court appearance, Kurmasheva told reporters she was not very well physically, and said her living conditions in prison were “very bad.” She also said she was receiving “minimal” medical care and that conditions in her cell are primitive, with a hole in the floor serving as a toilet.

Washington-based National Press Club and its Journalism Institute issued a statement Monday afternoon saying that Alsu’s horrific conditions could be eased if the State Department declares Alsu 'wrongfully detained' - something that "should have been done as soon as she was kidnapped."

"We call on the State Department to take action and declare Alsu 'wrongfully detained' today,” reads the statement. “There is no reason to delay a trial because no evidence exists that Alsu has done anything wrong. She is a target because she is a journalist, and journalism is not a crime. Alsu must be released now"

When asked by TURAN whether the latest developments would expedite the State Department's decision to designate Kurmasheva's detention as "wrongful", Spokesperson Miller said the following: "We look at a broad range of information when it comes to making those determinations.  Some of that information is public; some of it is not public. Some of it is information that’s available to the United States Government, and we’ll continue to collect information in this case, as we do in all potential wrongful determination cases."

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