Russia urges Int'l condemnation of Sputnik editor's arrest in Latvia
Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson says that Russia calls on international media watchdogs to condemn the arrest of Sputnik Lithuania editor Marat Kasem by the Latvian intelligence agency.
The Latvian intelligence agency in Riga detained Sputnik Lithuania editor Marat Kasem and took him into custody at the order of a Riga court on Thursday, Sputnik has learned.
Kasem, a Latvian citizen, is accused of breaching EU sanctions against Russia and has been charged with espionage. He has 10 days to appeal the ruling.
The editor has been working in Moscow as an employee for the Rossiya Segodnya news agency, whose director general is on the EU blacklist. He returned to Latvia in December for family reasons.
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Russia calls on international media watchdogs to condemn the arrest of Kasem, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said Thursday.
"We demand that international organizations, freedom-of-speech watchdogs and all international institutions take action because this journalist repeatedly reported being threatened," Maria Zakharova told Sputnik.
"We regard this [his arrest] as a violation by Latvia of all international obligations related to the freedom of speech, the protection of journalists’ rights and inviolability of rights and freedoms," she said.
Zakharova said Kasem said he had been persecuted in Latvia and Lithuania for years. If found guilty, he would face up to 20 years in prison.
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Another Russian journalist was detained at Riga Airport in 2018 and was interrogated for 12 hours before being released. In 2021, Moscow slammed the persecution of Russian journalists in the Baltic nations as a "flagrant attack on democracy."
This comes as the three Baltic states maintain hardline stances on Russia's actions amid the war in Ukraine. Last month, Reuters reported that Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia lodged a formal protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal that NATO should offer Russia security guarantees.
The Delfi portal reported on Saturday, citing police, that an unidentified man was arrested in the Latvian capital of Riga for hooking up "illegal television" in homes.
It was discovered that the man was offering television connections and service for close to 100 households in Riga for an extended period of time. During the raid, TV signal equipment and computers, access codes of Russian satellite TV provider Tricolor, telephones, payment cards, and documents, were found by police.
The man might face a prison sentence of two years, or another possibility of community service and a fine under the article "violation of copyright or related rights".
The Baltic authorities have previously impeded the expansion of Russian media on their territory. Since June 9, the last remaining 80 Russian TV channels were banned from broadcasting in Latvia.
In March, as part of the campaign of sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine, Google Europe blocked Youtube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe - as Ursula von Der Leyen accused the pair of "spreading harmful disinformation."
Later that month, the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) withdrew Russia Today's license to broadcast in the nation "with immediate effect", claiming that the television station was not "fit and proper" to have the broadcasting permissions.
In a statement, the watchdog said, "Ofcom has today revoked RT’s license to broadcast in the UK, with immediate effect. We have done so on the basis that we do not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast license."