Sputnik Editor's Espionage Charges Aim To 'Cover Up' Latvia Limiting Free Speech - Lawyer

Sputnik Editor's Espionage Charges Aim to 'Cover Up' Latvia Limiting Free Speech - Lawyer

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 08th January, 2023) Latvia's espionage accusation of Moscow-based Sputnik Lithuania editor Marat Kasem aims to "cover up" the country's actions to restrict freedom of speech, Anatoly Kapustin, head of the Russian branch of the International Law Association, told Sputnik on Sunday.

Kasem, a Latvian national working at Sputnik Lithuania editorial desk in Moscow-based international media group Rossiya Segodnya, was detained during a trip to the Latvian capital on January 3 and sent to the Riga Central Prison two days later on accusation of having violated EU sanctions against Russia as well as of espionage - an offense punished by up to 20 years in prison.

"This is a provocation and illegal activity, our country should sharply defend the rights of a journalist. If a journalist is detained for espionage, then as a rule, everyone immediately understands that there is a clearly provoked and contrived accusation in order to cover up the illegality of these actions to restrict the freedom of journalistic activity.

This cannot be justified by anything," Kapustin said, commenting on Kasem's detention.

Kapustin added that Latvian courts have been making politically motivated decisions in recent decades, so Russia needs to support Kasem.

"I think we need to support our colleague in every way we can. Including, as a citizen of Latvia, he can apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Russia needs to openly declare that this provocation is aimed at restricting freedom of expression, freedom of speech and other freedoms that are elements of the professional activities of a journalist," the lawyer said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that Kasem's detention is a revenge of dictatorial regimes. Rossiya Segodnya Director General Dmitry Kiselev said that the detention of Kasem was an act of revenge against Russian media.