Journalist facing jail for transcribing dissident’s trial speech

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Russia’s use of counter-terrorism legislation to charge Victor Korb, a well-known journalist based in Omsk, in southwestern Siberia, for transcribing and publishing the text of a speech that an opposition activist gave at his trial. Korb has not been jailed but is now under judicial control.

The founder of several independent regional media outlets and discussion websites, Korb discovered that he had been charged with “terrorism propaganda and justification” when a dozen masked policemen burst into his Omsk apartment in the early hours of 18 May. In the course of a ten-hour search, they seized all of the computers and electronic devices belonging to Korb and his family, along with files and publication archives.

As he was about to board a flight from Omsk to Moscow two days later, he was detained briefly by police and members of the Federal Security Service (FSB), who gave him two summonses to report for questioning, and told him that he had been placed under judicial control.

According to the documents they gave him, Korb has been charged because he published, on his website in April 2015, a transcript of a speech that the dissident political activist Boris Stomakhin gave at his trial, which was open to the public. For this, Korb is facing a possible sentence of up to seven years in prison.

“Prosecuting a journalist for publishing the text of a speech that was delivered publicly is arbitrary and a perfect example of the absurdity of Russia’s counter-terrorism legislation and how it is used,” RSF said. “We call on the authorities to drop all charges against Viktor Korb and to return all the confiscated material at once.”

Korb is a well-known journalist in southwestern Siberia. He was at the forefront of the pro-democracy movement when the Soviet Union collapsed and created Omsk’s first news agency, DO-Info, in 1990. He is nowadays also active as a human rights defender.

Russia is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 25.05.2018