Authorities in Russia have detained a journalist of U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on charges of failing to register as a “foreign agent”, RFE/RL said on Thursday.
Alsu Kurmasheva, who holds Russian and U.S. citizenships, is the second U.S. journalist to be detained in Russia this year. Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested in March on espionage charges, which he denies.
Russia’s Tatar-Inform news agency said Kurmasheva had failed to register as a “foreign agent” while gathering information on Russia’s military activity. She could face up to five years in prison, according to RFE/RL, which called for her release.
Kurmasheva lived in Prague until May when she travelled to Russia due to a “family emergency,” RFE/RL said. Her two passports were seized on June 2 when she tried to fly back to Prague and she was fined for failing to notify Russian authorities of her U.S. citizenship.
Kurmasheva was waiting for her documents to be returned when she was detained on fresh charges on Oct 18, the broadcaster said.
Under Russian law, individuals and organisations receiving funding from abroad can be declared foreign agents, potentially undermining their credibility with the Russian public.