Extension of Detention: Russian Court Prolongs U.S. Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva’s Custody Until February 5

KAZAN, Russia – December 2, 2023

Extension of Detention Russian Court Prolongs U.S. Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva's Custody

A Russian court has extended the “pre-trial detention of Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva” until February 5, adding further uncertainty to her legal proceedings in Kazan. The journalist, associated with “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)” in Prague, is facing charges of not registering as a “foreign agent” due to her connection with a “U.S. Congress-funded organization,” a designation Russia applies to those receiving foreign funding for perceived political activities.

Expressing concern over Kurmasheva’s prolonged detention, “RFE/RL’s acting president,” Jeffrey Gedmin, denounced it as unjust and politically motivated. He called on Russian authorities to provide consular access to Kurmasheva as a “U.S. citizen” and urged for her immediate release to reunite with her family.

Kurmasheva, who holds both “U.S. and Russian passports,” entered Russia on May 20 for a family emergency but was detained on June 2 while awaiting her return flight, with her passports confiscated. “Court documents” indicate that she was fined on October 11 for not registering her U.S. passport, and later charged with the more serious offense of failing to register as a “foreign agent,” which could result in a five-year prison sentence.

The term “foreign agent” in Russia carries historical connotations of espionage and has been broadly applied to various individuals, including journalists, activists, and entertainers. This event parallels a comparable occurrence in March 2023, involving the arrest of “Evan Gershkovich,” a reporter for the “Wall Street Journal,” on charges of espionage during the Ukraine conflict. Gershkovich refuted the allegations, leading to accusations of “hostage diplomacy” from both the “U.S. ambassador” and “President Joe Biden.”

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