Ivan Golunov: Drug dealing charge against journalist dropped

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov

"He will be released from house arrest today, the charges have been dropped", he said. Human rights groups said police in Russian Federation often plant drugs on suspects.

Matviyenko, who is nominally the third most powerful politician in Russian Federation, said the case had been taken under the personal control of Yury Chaika, the prosecutor general. On Saturday, he had to be hospitalized with doctors noting, among other things, a concussion and a broken rib.

Speaking to Reuters after last week's arrest, he said his client had been beaten, and police had refused to take swabs from his hands or rucksack or to take fingernail samples - all of which would have provided evidence of whether or not he had been in contact with drugs. A drug test on Monday for a court hearing found that Golunov had not consumed any illegal substances.

It is unusual, given the gravity of the accusations, for a court to agree to house arrest and the decision was seen by supporters as a sign that authorities were nervous about the outcry. Even pro-Kremlin, state-run media outlets and major television stations demanded Golunov be treated fairly. In an apparent attempt to portray him as a professional drug dealer, police on Friday released several photos, reportedly from his home, of what appeared to be a drug lab.

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He said he had briefly read "a couple of hundreds of thousands of questions" for the "Direct Line" and added "there are questions" on Golunov's case, "but not too many".

Mr Golunov's attorneys and press freedom activists acknowledged the treatment had been planted in boom to silence the investigative journalist. The issues of the three newspapers sold out within a few hours and are now being auctioned off online.

It is not yet clear if the police reversal represented a turning point for the many Russian journalists who are routinely attacked or face government pressure for their work. Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev has now announced that those responsible for the trial will be fired. The policemen involved in his case were suspended. Celebrities, including those normally who remain outside politics, posted messages in support. It occurred under conditions of a global war on journalism, which has been spearheaded by the illegal persecution of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange.

"It's great news. It is an inspiring and motivating example of what a simple solidarity can achieve for people who are persecuted", Celebrated the opponent Alexéi Navalni, object of multiple judicial denunciations in the last years. But Golunov as he walked free said he would prefer supporters spend time with "loved ones and family".

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Criminal charges have been lifted against Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov. Journalists must be free to hold power to account without fear of retribution. Violations in the handling of the case "cause distrust" of investigative authorities, she added.

Russian Federation has been widely criticised for its approach to press freedom.

A file on the case had been sent to felony investigators, Mr Kolokoltsev said.

This latest incident is another alarming example of the growing threats to journalists and media outlets worldwide, as authoritarian countries like Russian Federation crackdown on independent media, and major democracies move further towards populism.

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