New York, May 13, 2020 – Russian authorities should not contest the appeal of Crimean journalist Nariman Memedeminov, ensure his safe return to Crimea, and allow him to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
A military appeals court in the Russian city of Vlasikha is scheduled to hear the journalist’s appeal tomorrow, according to a report by the Crimean Service of the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Authorities arrested Memedeminov, a Ukrainian independent journalist, in Russian-controlled Crimea in March 2018, and have held him since then in a detention center in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, according to CPJ research. In October 2019, he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison after being convicted of making “public calls to terrorism” in his reporting, according to that research.
“Forcefully transporting a Ukrainian citizen and independent journalist from Crimea to Russia and trying him in a military court on absurd charges is a violation of international legal norms, and the Russian authorities know it,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Authorities should not contest Nariman Memedeminov’s appeal, and he should be released immediately and allowed to return to Crimea. Russia’s prosecution of Crimean Tatar journalists must stop.”
The journalist’s defense lawyer, Edem Semedlyayev, told the U.S. broadcaster that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the appeal hearing will be conducted through a video conference call, and said he would join from the Crimean city of Simferopol, Memedeminov would join from Rostov-on-Don, and the judge would join from Vlasikha.