Published: Sun, June 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Russian journalist held by police taken to hospital

Russian journalist held by police taken to hospital

"Russian authorities should immediately drop their charges against Ivan Golunov, release him, and investigate allegations of mistreatment of the journalist in police custody", said Gulnoza Said, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator.

Moscow police admitted that they posted photographs of drugs paraphernalia wrongly captioned as showing Golunov's flat.

Golunov has investigated state corruption and illicit business practices and was reporting on a scheme to corner the market in funeral services before his arrest.

Russian police said on Saturday that an investigative journalist facing drugs charges in a case supporters say is trumped-up has been taken to a Moscow hospital after he fell ill in custody.

Meduza says Mr Golunov, 36, is being "being persecuted because of his journalistic activity".

Ivan Golunov was charged with the attempted "large-scale" sale of narcotics, according to rights lawyer Pavel Chikov of the legal-aid group Agora, whose staff is defending the reporter.

Journalists and supporters of Ivan Golunov, a journalist who worked for the independent website Meduza, gather at a court building in Moscow.

Police are alleging four grams of a synthetic stimulant were found in his backpack.

"We will find out by whose will Vanya [Ivan] is being pursued, and we will make this information public", Meduza's director Galina Timchenko and editor Ivan Kolpakov said.

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Journalists were waiting to enter the court building on Saturday afternoon.

Golunov was due to attend court on Saturday for a ruling on whether he is to be held in custody but it was unclear whether this would go ahead after his hospitalisation.

One of his lawyers, Dmitry Dzhulai, told AFP it appeared the drugs had been planted on Golunov.

A presidential rights council member who visited Golunov in detention on Friday, Yeva Merkacheva, said in a statement that he told her "he hadn't slept for 24 hours and so he feels bad.

Everything indicates that the authorities are planting drugs on their targets to shut them up with a jail sentence", said Natalia Zviagina. "He also hasn't eaten", she said.

"We are convinced that Ivan Golunov is innocent", the statement reads, according to Reuters news agency.

A number of independent reporters in Russian Federation have been prosecuted, threatened or killed.

Police detained Golunov on 6 June after finding in his possession five packages of a powdery substance, while later tests determined that it was mephedrone.

While journalists at Russia's dwindling number of independent media resources frequently face criminal probes, physical attacks and official pressure, drugs accusations are not common.

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