OSCE Media Freedom Representative calls for dropping of criminal charges against Radio Ekho Moskvy journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva in Russia
VIENNA, 11 February 2019 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, today called for criminal charges of supporting terrorism against journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva to be dropped, and raised concern about decisions by a Russian court to fine two media outlets in relation to this case. Prokopyeva is a journalist with Radio Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) and a contributor to various other media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian Service.
On 6 February, law enforcement officers searched Prokopyeva’s apartment, seized her computers, phones and files. They detained and interrogated the journalist on charges of “publicly justifying terrorism”. An investigation and a search were also conducted at Radio Ekho Moskvy’s editorial office in Pskov.
On 6 and 7 February, the courts in Pskov fined Ekho Moskvy and the Pskovskaya Lenta Novostei media outlet about 2,000 and 2,700 euros respectively for Prokopyeva’s comments.
“I call on the authorities to carefully review the case and drop the charges brought against Prokopyeva, who had no involvement in any terrorist activity. Reporting on a terrorist attack should not be assimilated to the justification of terrorism. I also call for her equipment to be returned without delay,” Désir wrote in a letter to the authorities.
Reportedly, the charge, punishable by a prison sentence of up to seven years, stems from Prokopyeva’s comments on the radio, when she expressed her views regarding a terrorist attack in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk in October 2018 and criticized the authorities. The transcript of the programme was also later published on Pskovskaya Lenta Novostei.
“Journalists have the right to freely express views and opinions, including on issues that could be considered as controversial, sensitive, or offensive,” Désir said. “Under no circumstances should media workers and media outlets be targeted in retaliation for their work.”
The Representative expressed hope that the decisions to fine Ekho Moskvy and Pskovskaya Lenta Novostei will be overturned in an appeal.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. He provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.
For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/411116
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