15 September 2016, 19:23
RWB and Freedom House treat verdict to Geriev as punishment for journalism
The case of the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent Zhalaudi Geriev is another example of suppression of independent journalism and prosecution of critics of the Chechen authorities, says the joint statement of the human rights organization "Reporters Without Borders" (RWB) and the Freedom House.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that the court sentenced Zhalaudi Geriev to three years of imprisonment on the charge of possession of marijuana. Zhalaudi Geriev testified to investigators under pressure and retracted his confession at trial. The defence has challenged the sentence at the court of appeal and pointed out to numerous examples of falsification in the case materials, evident contradictions in the prosecutors' version, and involvement of "hired" witnesses by the police.
The open civil platform "Change.org" has been collecting signatures to the petition in support of Zhalaudi Geriev. The petition has already gathered 2716 signatures.
It is easy to see political motives behind the official accusation and the verdict to Zhalaudi Geriev, says the RWB's statement.
"The journalist was actually punished for his professional activities, which was another step in the war on independent journalism, waged by the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov," says the statement published on September 8.
The Freedom House supports the opinion that Geriev's case was fabricated and has to do with his professional activities. Its statement published on September 6 quotes Robert Herman, the Freedom House's Vice President on International Programmes, who treated the verdict to Geriev as evidence of authorities' attempts to intimidate mass media and independent journalists.
Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.