Tag Archives: press

Russian defense reporter accused of espionage

The arrest of former journalist has caused major outcry among independent media outlets in Russia. Ivan Safronov, accused of spying for the Czech Republic and the United States, was arrested on July 7 by Russia’s security service, the FSB, which has accused him of state treason, the charges foreseing prison sententse from 12 up to 20 years.

Until two months ago, Safronov was a reporter covering Russia’s defense and space industries for a leading state newspaper, Vedomosti, having spent a decade covering the same subject for Kommersant newspaper. Since May, he has been a communications adviser for the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.

Safronov’s lawyer told reporters on July 7 the FSB accuses him of passing secret information to Czech intelligence about Russian arms supplies to Africa and military activities in the Middle East. A Moscow court ordered his arrest for two months in pretrial detention in the city’s Lefortovo jail.

Former colleagues and journalists from other publications protested against his arrest outside FSB headquarters in Moscow on July 7, and more than two dozen were detained by police. Three of Russia’s top news outlets, including his two former papers, published protests prominently on their sites, saying the arrest was intended to discourage the objective reporting in Russia.

Kommersant, where Safronov worked for a decade, wrote that the accusations seemed “absurd” and called him a “patriot.” Another leading outlet, RBC, wrote that his arrest was “a signal” to Russian media and society to avoid casting light on shady activities of powerfl groups of people.

Treason cases are classified, meaning Safronov’s trial will be held behind closed doors as even the charges brought against him are likely to remain obscure.

Ivan Pavlov, the lawyer, who defends Safronov at Court, told reporters the FSB alleges his client was recruited in 2012 by Czech intelligence and in 2017 allegedly was given the task of passing along intelligence about the arms deliveries and military operations. That information allegedly was shared with the United States, added Pavlov, who told reporters materials for the case filled seven volumes, suggesting the FSB had been building a case against Safronov for quite some time.

The Czech Foreign ministry on July 8 declined to comment.

Safronov, 30, is known as for breaking stories on Russia’s defense sector and had worked in the Kremlin media pool, which travels with President Putin. Last year, he repeatedly was interrogated by the FSB over an article he wrote about the sale of Russian warplanes to Egypt.

Russian journalist Prokopyeva fine «unjustified»

“On Monday 6 July, a Russian court found prominent journalist, Ms Svetlana Prokopyeva, guilty on charges of justifying terrorism after having stated in a radio programme that a terrorist attack at an FSB building was linked to the social and political situation in Russia, and that the incident was a result of the State’s ongoing restrictions on political and civil liberties. She has been ordered to pay a substantial fine, which we consider unjustified” reads the statement by a spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the sentencing of journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva in Russia.

“The prosecution of Ms Prokopyeva is testimony to the ever-shrinking space for independent journalism and civil society in the Russian Federation over recent years. Incidents of intimidation, threats and violence against journalists are frequently reported, while the fundamental freedoms of expression and freedom of the media in the country are repressed and severely curtailed, including through politically-motivated arrests and court proceedings such as the one against Ms Prokopyeva. Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democratic societies, which can thrive only if citizens have access to reliable information and can make informed choices. We expect the Russian Federation to uphold its international and domestic obligations and ensure that journalists are able to work in a safe environment without fear of reprisal”.

“The EU reaffirms its determination to defend press and media freedom, as well as all human rights, within its borders and worldwide”.

Assange detention degrades UK press freedom

The UK has dropped two places to 35th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF’s) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published today. Although the UK government played a key role in promoting media freedom globally, its efforts were undermined by domestic developments, including the murder of Lyra McKee and active threats to the safety of journalists in Northern Ireland, and the detention of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who faces possible extradition to the US.

The sentencing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to a disproportionate jail term of 50 weeks for breaking bail also marred the UK’s press freedom record in 2019, as did the Home Office’s decision to green light the US extradition request. Assange remained in custody at the high security Belmarsh Prison despite widespread international concern for his health and safety, including by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

“With coronavirus and other converging crises presenting unprecedented threats to press freedom globally, it is more important than ever for democratic states to lead by example. The UK should be performing better on the World Press Freedom Index, and must address these domestic concerns as a matter of priority. Concrete steps should be taken to ensure the safety of journalists in the wake of Lyra McKee’s murder, and Julian Assange should be released – and certainly not extradited to the US”, said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.

RSF also noted concern over problematic provisions of counter-terrorism and crime legislation adopted in 2019, as well as the pursuit by the London Metropolitan Police of the publication of leaked information from diplomatic cables as a criminal matter.

The Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country and region. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country or region.

Turkey Radio Sputnik crew harassment

Late evening February 29, three Sputnik employees in Ankara were attacked at their homes, with organized groups attempting to break down the front door, threatening and calling the agency staffers “traitors” and “Russian spies”, Sputnik site informs. (Image: illustration).

Turkish police have detained the editor-in-chief of Sputnik Turkey in Istanbul.

Earlier, Sputnik Turkey said it was unable to reach three employees for nine hours; contact was lost after they went to the police to report a raid on their homes, Sputnik and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan wrote on Telegram page.

The Turkish state news agency Anadolu has characterised the weekend attacks on Sputnik staff members as a “protest.”

The agency claimed that police had launched an investigation into the incidents.

The harresment on Sputnik crew in Ankara occurred at about 10:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, with groups of at least 10 individuals, attempting to break down apartment doors and storm the homes of the journalists.

Police came to our office in Istanbul. One more employee is detained. Three more ours from yesterday in the police in Ankara, where the nationalists broke into their apartments the night before. Turkey, what is this ???” Simonyan wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

Lavrov: journalist Vyshinky case “absurd”

Russian Minister of Foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov  reiterated Moscow demands of respect of his human rights and immediate liberation of journalist Kirill Vyshinky (pictured) arrested in Ukraine.

The trial in the case of the RIA Novosti Ukraine chief editor resembles the theater of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was arrested illegally, only because he worked for a Russian media outlet and honestly covered current developments. Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand it as they have been postponing hearings, citing the need to study the case files,Lavrov said to Aif newspaper.

Our diplomats maintain contacts with his lawyers as Ukraine failed to provide us with access to the journalist himself. We are doing our best, working with foreign partners, particularly on international platforms, encouraging them to influence Kiev so that a positive solution can be foundLavrov concluded.

Kiev’s Podolsky District Court postponed the hearing of the Vyshinsky case to July 19.

Vyshinsky was arrested in Kiev  by the Ukrainian Security Service  (SBU) on 15 May 2018.  Being under arrest, on On 1 June 2018, he said in court: “I declare my withdrawal from my Ukrainian citizenship — from this moment I consider myself only a citizen of Russia.”

Clashes with Taliban in Ghazni continue

Fighting continued around Ghazni city just south of Kabul during weekend a day after Taliban fighters stormed its center in a brutal show of force, with at least 25 police and one journalist killed, officials said.

Defense ministry officials said Ghazni was under complete control of the security forces but at the same time indicated clearance operations were continuing and additional troops were being sent to boost the city’s defense.

“Afghan National Army reinforcements are making their way to Ghazni city to help the Afghan National Police search and clear the city of insurgents that may still be hiding in the city,” said Major Mohammad Farooq, Afghan army 203rd Corps spokesman.

There is no update of information on casualties, but Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said that 25 policemen had been killed, along with one Afghan journalist, whom he did not identify.

 

 

 

 

Reporters without Borders condemn Babchenko fake news

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the distressing simulation of Russian exile journalist Arkady Babchenko’s murder, which was done with the aim of unmasking those who wanted to kill him, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claimed today.

A day after he was reportedly gunned down at the entrance to his Kiev apartment building, Babchenko was very much alive when he appeared at a press conference organized by the SBU today in Kiev.

He said he was told a month ago that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was planning to kill him and he had no choice but to cooperate in the SBU’s simulation of his death. He apologized to members of his family who were not in the know.

SBU chief Vasil Gritsak said that, thanks to this operation, they were able to arrest the Ukrainian citizen who was recruited by the FSB to organize Babchenko’s murder, and to prevent the deaths of 30 other persons who were in the sights of the Russian authorities.

“This journalist’s reappearance is a great relief but it was distressing and regrettable that the Security Service of Ukraine played with the truth,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Was such a scheme really necessary? There can be no grounds for faking a journalist’s death.”

According to reports confirmed yesterday by the Ukrainian police, the 41-year-old journalist died while being rushed to hospital from the injuries he received when he was shot three times in the back as he was returning to his Kiev apartment.

An outspoken critic of the Russian government since its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Babchenko has often received death threats on social networks. Fearing for his safety after Russian state TV channels launched a campaign against him, he fled to Prague in February 2017 but moved to Kiev a few months later and has been hosting a programme there on the Tatar TV channel ATR since last October.

Ukraine is ranked 101st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

 

 

Journalists killed in Kabul suicide blast

Two suicide blast at rush hour in Kabul claimed lives of more than 20 people, and left many injured. In a first explosion, a suicide bomber detonated himself close to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the main Afghan intelligence agency, TOLOnews reported quoting official sources.

In another explosion that followed 20 minutes later, a second suicide bomber targeted emergency medical workers and journalists who had arrived at the scene.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghan medid said ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd of press, rushing to the place of the first attack.
AFP chief photographer Shah Marai (pictured) three other journalists were among 21 killed in two suicide blasts in Kabul.