Updated Oct 23, 2023 - World

Russia extends American journalist's detention into December

Alsu Kurmasheva talks to lawyer Edgar Matevosyan

Alsu Kurmasheva talks to lawyer during a hearing at the Sovetski court in Kazan, Russia on Oct 20. Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

A Russian court on Monday extended Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Alsu Kurmasheva's detention by another six weeks, her employer announced.

Why it matters: Kurmasheva has dual U.S.-Russian citizenship. Her arrest last week, on charges of allegedly failing to register as a foreign agent, made her the second American journalist to be detained by Russia this year.

Driving the news: The court in Kazan, Russia on Monday rejected a bid by Kurmasheva's lawyer for a pretrial measure that did not include imprisonment, RFE/RL said.

  • Instead, the court assigned her to a detention center where she will remain until Dec. 5.
  • "We are deeply disappointed by the outcome of today's hearing," said Jeffrey Gedmin, RFE/RL's acting president, in a statement.
  • "We call for Alsu's immediate release so she can be reunited with her family."

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a press briefing Monday that the U.S. has still not been officially notified by Russia about Kurmasheva's arrest.

  • "We are deeply concerned about her pretrial detention, we have requested consular access. So far it has not been granted. We will continue to press for it and we have asked the Russian government for more information on her situation," Miller said.

Catch up quick: Kurmasheva lives in Prague. She traveled to Russia in May for a family emergency and then was temporarily detained at the Kazan airport in June while awaiting her return flight.

  • Both of her passports were confiscated and she was fined for not registering her U.S. passport with Russian authorities. She has not left Russia since then.
  • She was waiting for her passports to be returned when she was arrested and charged last week.
  • Kurmasheva was charged by Russian authorities for failing to register as a foreign agent in her capacity as a person collecting information on Russian military activities that "could be used against the security of the Russian Federation," according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

What to watch: Kurmasheva's lawyer told Reuters Monday he felt the court's ruling was "too harsh" and that he intends file an appeal.

Editor's note: This story was updated with comment from a State Department spokesperson.

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