Russian reporter’s lawyer protests alleged police violence

In this photo taken on Saturday, June 8, 2019, Ivan Golunov, a prominent Russian investigative reporter, who worked for the independent website Meduza, leaves the cage in a court room in Moscow, Russia. (AP)
Updated 10 June 2019

Russian reporter’s lawyer protests alleged police violence

  • When police announced the arrest Friday, they released photographs showing bags containing a white substance and big empty bottles suggestive of a makeshift drug lab

MOSCOW: A lawyer for a Russian journalist detained on charges of drug dealing has filed a complaint that accuses police of using violence against the prominent reporter, a human rights group said Sunday.
Police refuted claims that Ivan Golunov was beaten after his Thursday arrest; his lawyers said he may have suffered a concussion and rib fractures.
Golunov, who has denied using or possessing drugs, was examined in a hospital Saturday and found to have abrasions on his back and a bruise around one eye. A court released him into house arrest later in the day.
The complaint lawyer Olga Dinze lodged with Russia’s Investigative Committee alleges the journalist was subjected to “unmotivated physical violence” while in custody, Pavel Chikov, the head of human rights group Agora head, said Sunday in a post on the Telegram messaging service.
The case has attracted wide attention in Russia and abroad, reflecting concerns Golunov might have been arrested because of his work.
Topics he covered for the Meduza website include on unscrupulous lenders evicting people from their residences and an organization’s alleged attempts to take over the Russian funeral business.
Protesters called for his release during rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. A small group also demonstrated in New York City to show support for Golunov on Saturday, when the US Embassy in Moscow argued for his release.
“We join the Russian media community and call for the release of Ivan Golunov, and conducting a thorough and open investigation of this case,” the embassy tweeted. “Like any other journalist, Golunov should not be persecuted due to his professional activities.”
Suspicions that Golunov may have been set up have been bolstered by an array of misinformation on the case.
Russian state TV reported Sunday that authorities found Golunov intoxicated when they arrived at his home to arrest him. But it later said a medical report showed no evidence of his intoxication.
When police announced the arrest Friday, they released photographs showing bags containing a white substance and big empty bottles suggestive of a makeshift drug lab. They later said the photos were published in error.
On Sunday, state news channel Rossiya-24 broadcast a man it identified as a police official saying the images were from a separate investigation.


Turkish court upholds verdict against 12 ex-staff of opposition newspaper

Updated 21 November 2019

Turkish court upholds verdict against 12 ex-staff of opposition newspaper

  • 14 employees of Cumhuriyet were sentenced in April 2018 to various jail terms on terrorism charges
  • The case drew global outrage over press freedom under President Tayyip Erdogan

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Thursday upheld its conviction of 12 former employees of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper despite a higher court ruling, a lawyer for the newspaper said.
The court acquitted a 13th defendant, journalist Kadri Gursel, due to a ruling by the Constitutional Court, Turkey’s highest, said the lawyer, Tora Pekin.
In a case that drew global outrage over press freedom under President Tayyip Erdogan, 14 employees of Cumhuriyet — one of the few remaining voices critical of the government — were sentenced in April 2018 to various jail terms on terrorism charges.
They were accused of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front militant groups, as well as the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says organized a 2016 failed coup. Gulen denies any involvement.
The Cumhuriyet staff have been in and out of jail for the duration of their trials. The 14th defendant, Cumhuriyet accountant Emre Iper, was released last month and his case is still under court review.
The Court of Cassation, Turkey’s high court of appeals, had ruled in September for the 13 defendants to be acquitted, with the exception of journalist and politician Ahmet Sik. The court said Sik should be tried for a different crime.
The case of the 12 defendants will now be re-evaluated by the Court of Cassation, Pekin said.
“With the Court of Cassation ruling (in September), we thought this endless arbitrariness and injustice were ending. But we understood in court today that it wasn’t so,” said Pekin.
Since the failed coup, authorities have jailed 77,000 people pending trial, while 150,000, including civil servants, judges, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. Some 150 media outlets have also been closed.
A global press watchdog said on Tuesday more than 120 journalists were still being held in Turkey’s jails, a global record.
Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern over the scale of the crackdown. Rights groups accuse Erdogan of using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.