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Russia sentences second detained U.S. journalist to extended pre-trial detention

by Nate Ostiller October 23, 2023 3:08 PM 2 min read
Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual-Russian/American citizen and journalist for RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service ihas detained in Russia as of Oct. 19, 2023. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
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A court in the Russian city of Kazan sentenced Alsu Kurmasheva, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist with dual U.S. and Russian citizenship, to extended pre-trial detention until Dec. 5, the news agency reported on Oct. 23.

The court hearings were closed to the press.

"We are deeply disappointed by the outcome of today's hearing,” said RFE/RL acting President Jeffrey Gedmin about Kurmasheva's pre-trial detention.

“We call for Alsu's immediate release so she can be reunited with her family.”

Kurmasheva was arrested in Kazan for failing to register as a foreign agent, which can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

According to RFE/RL, Kurmasheva lives in Prague with her family, and traveled to Russia in May for a family emergency. When she tried to leave Russia the following month, authorities confiscated both her Russian and American passports, supposedly on the premise that she had not registered her U.S. passport.

Kurmasheva has been unable to leave Russia since then. RFE/RL confirmed that she had been charged with the foreign agent violation on Oct. 19, while waiting for her passports to be returned.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Oct. 19 that he was "appalled" by Kurmasheva's arrest and called for her immediate release.

Kurmasheva is the second journalist with American citizenship to be detained in Russia since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter from the U.S., was arrested in Russia in March 2023 on espionage charges. He has been held in pre-trial detention since.

Both the U.S. government and the WSJ strongly deny the charges against him.

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