Russia expels Japanese journalist in military espionage row

Ties between Japan and Russia have been strained for decades by a territorial dispute over a chain of islands in the Pacific. Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on December 19, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Russia expels Japanese journalist in military espionage row

  • The expelled journalist works for Japan’s Kyodo News agency
  • The reporter was told to leave Russia in 72 hours

MOSCOW/TOKYO: Russia said on Monday it expelled a Japanese journalist last month for trying to obtain secret information related to Russian military capabilities in the Russian Far East, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
The expelled journalist worked for Japan’s Kyodo News agency, it said on Tuesday, denying the accusation of attempted espionage.
Kyodo did not identify the reporter but said he was detained on Dec. 25 in Vladivostok and released after about five hours of questioning.
The reporter was told to leave Russia in 72 hours, Kyodo said.
“For safety reasons, he left the country the following day. It is our understanding that he was engaged in standard reporting activities,” Kyodo said in an emailed statement.
Russia’s foreign ministry summoned a Japanese embassy official to make an official diplomatic protest over the incident, RIA reported.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it could not comment on the matter.
Ties between Japan and Russia have been strained for decades by a territorial dispute over a chain of islands in the Pacific.
Known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories, the islands were seized by the Soviet army in the waning days of World War Two.
The dispute has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a formal peace treaty and developing their relations.
“The Japanese citizen was detained by Russian law enforcement officers in Vladivostok on Dec. 25, 2019 trying to receive secret materials about Russia’s military potential in the Far East,” RIA quoted the Russian foreign ministry as saying.


Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

Updated 24 February 2020

Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

  • MBC Group to support young film makers with training from industry professionals

LONDON: Young Arab film makers will have the opportunity to have their work showcased at next month’s Red Sea International Film Festival as investment in Saudi cinema gathers pace.

The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced a partnership with MBC Group, which will also broadcast the event’s opening ceremony on March 12.

As part of the deal, MBC Al Amal, MBC’s corporate social responsibility arm, will hold a Shorts pitch competition.

Ten short film projects will be selected from Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, with filmmakers being given a one-day workshop to prepare for a pitching session. 

Italian director and producer Stefano Tealdi will train the candidates to strengthen their skills and give them tips for better pitches, MBC said.

“We strongly believe that this new generation of talent is key in influencing change and creating the difference to the region’s media and entertainment content landscape, which of course includes independent film and mainstream cinema,” said Peter Smith, managing director of MBC Studios.

The region’s biggest broadcaster will also host talent days on March 17 and 18 to support Saudi scriptwriters, directors and producers.

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival takes place March 12-21 in Jeddah Old Town, under the theme “Changing the Script.” It aims to support and help grow Saudi Arabia’s emerging film industry which is attracting a slew of investment from homegrown dramas shot in the Kingdom to the construction of cinemas countrywide.

Real estate broker CBRE estimates that 45 new cinemas are expected to open this year.

The boom in cinema construction coincides with a push to develop the domestic Saudi film industry.

That is being driven by both the big and small screen as video-on-demand players that include MBC, Netflix and Amazon compete to deliver content that speaks to a young Arab audience.