Reporters without Borders (RSF), within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, has provided financial support and raised the voice to prevent the extradition of a young Russian opposition journalist arrested at Larnaca airport, Cyprus, at Russia’s behest. This journalist, whose identity remains confidential, was facing a possible 15-year jail sentence if extradited to his home country.
The journalist fled to escape imminent imprisonment for his activities as an independent journalist and an outspoken activist. He was known for his investigative coverage of local government corruption and his involvement in local grass-roots campaigns.
At time of his arrest, RSF denounced his imprisonment in a press release, calling for his liberation. Within sight of his trial, in addition to his Cypriot lawyer, he benefited from the support a Bulgarian lawyer, specialised in requests for extradition to Russia. The emergency grant allocated through ProtectDefenders.eu also covered his legal fees. Thanks to these joint initiatives, the court ruled his liberation and he then went to Lithuania, where he was granted asylum.
ProtectDefenders.eu has allocated 188 emergency grants for human rights defenders at risk, journalists and those fighting for the freedom of expression, since the start of the Project. Emergency grants for individuals can reach up to EUR 10000 and are channeled through the existent mechanism of eight ProtectDefenders.eu partners. Applications details, thematic and geographic criteria and contact forms, as well as a hotline working 24/7, are available at www.protectdefenders.eu.