01 December 2016, 18:42
Key facts about Geriev's case: from kidnapping to appeal
On September 5, 2016, Chechen journalist Zhalaudi Geriev, working for the 'Caucasian Knot', was sentenced to three years of imprisonment in a penal colony on charges of drug possession.
Prior to his arrest, on April 16, 2016, Geriev was kidnapped by armed men on his way to the airport after he had already bought an airline ticket and registered online. After kidnapping law enforcers confiscated his phones and backpack, which allegedly contained drugs. The armed men then took the journalist to the forest and questioned him, tying his hands and putting a plastic bag over his head. Geriev was accused of conducting activities against Chechen authorities; he was questioned about his journalistic work and was forced to confess to possessing marijuana.
At the trial, Zhalaudi Geriev withdrew his confession made at the preliminary investigation, saying it was made under pressure. Geriev's advocate Alaudi Musaev claimed that the key evidence in the case – package that allegedly contained drugs – was falsified. It was revealed that the package sent for forensic examination was not the same package that had been confiscated in the first place. On November 23, the Supreme Court of Chechnya decided to send to the investigating authorities Geriev's complaint about his kidnapping.
The Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" has recognized Geriev to be a political prisoner. More than dozen international human rights organizations published statements in his support. The online petition in support of the journalist gathered more than 24,000 signatures.
The 'Caucasian Knot' believes that the criminal case against Zhalaudi Geriev is fabricated, while charges of drug consumption are totally baseless. Lack of direct evidence of Geriev's fault and pressure applied to him during investigation give reasons to assume that criminal prosecution of the 'Caucasian Knot' correspondent is motivated by his professional activities.