Moscow [Russia]: A Moscow court on Saturday charged a Russian investigative journalist for attempted large-scale sale of drugs, according to the scribe’s lawyer.
“I did not commit any crimes, and I am ready to help the investigation. I have no relation to drugs and I have never used them,” TASS quoted Ivan Golunov, a special correspondent for the independent news site Meduza, as saying during a hearing in Nikulinsky District Court.
According to the police, Golunov was detained at his residence in downtown Moscow on June 6. Police said the scribe was carrying various packages containing four grams of mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant drug.
Three packages, a parcel containing a powdery substance and scales were also found in his house, police added.
A criminal case was lodged against the 36-year-old, and the news of his arrest has sparked protests in Russia with demonstrators terming it as “trumped-up drugs charge,” CNN reported.
Condemning the detention, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged for Golunov’s release as well as probe allegations that he had been severely beaten in police custody.
“Russian authorities should immediately drop their charges against Ivan Golunov, release him, and investigate allegations of mistreatment of the journalist in police custody,” CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said, remarked.
Meduza editor-in-chief Ivan Kolpakov told the CPJ that the charges against Golunov were “absurd”, adding that he had “no doubts that the charges are fabricated and are related to his journalism.”
According to Russian media reports, the police have denied the claims that they physically assaulted the journalist.