A Russian-American journalist has been arrested in Russia on suspicion of be a foreign agent gathering information about the Kremlin’s military activities.
The journalist, Alsu Kurmasheva, is a dual U.S.-Russian citizen and an editor for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
She was detained Wednesday in the western Russian city of Kazan for allegedly failing to register as a foreign agent while gathering information about the the Russian government’s military activities.
Kurmasheva’s employer said she was detained while waiting to have her passports returned, after they were confiscated in June.
The arrest of Kurmasheva, whose agency is funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars, follows Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich being taken into custody in March in Russia on espionage charges.
The White House has said Gershkovich was “wrongfully detained” and has denied the charges, as has his newspaper.
Kurmasheva, an editor with RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir service who lives in Prague, traveled to Russia in May for a family emergency. While she waited for her return flight at Kazan International Airport, on June 2, authorities detained her and confiscated her U.S. and Russian passports, according to RFE/RL.
She was then fined for failing to register her U.S. passport, and the additional charge was brought against her Wednesday while she was waiting to get back her passports.
The charge of failing to register as a foreign agent carries a maximum sentence of five years of forced labor or imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to two years of her income, according to the Russian state-run outlet Tatar-Inform.
“Alsu is a highly respected colleague, devoted wife, and dedicated mother to two children,” RFE/RL acting President Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin said. “She needs to be released so she can return to her family immediately.”