Russian-American journalist denied release into house arrest

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court on Tuesday ordered a detained Russian-American journalist to remain in jail ahead of trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent, rather than be released to house arrest, state news agency Tass reported.

Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor for the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tatar-Bashkir service, was taken into custody on Oct. 18 and faces charges of failing to register as a foreign agent while collecting information about the Russian military.

A court last week extended her detention until Dec. 5. Kurmasheva and her lawyer on Tuesday asked for her release to house arrest, but the court in the Tatarstan capital of Kazan rejected the appeal.

She is the second U.S. journalist detained in Russia this year, after Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges in March. Gershkovich remains in custody.

She could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Kurmasheva, who lives in Prague, was stopped June 2 at Kazan International Airport after traveling to Russia for a family emergency May 20, according to RFE/RL.

Airport officials confiscated her U.S. and Russian passports and she was fined for failing to register her U.S. passport. She was waiting for her passports to be returned when the new charge was filed earlier this month, RFE/RL said.

RFE/RL was told by Russian authorities in 2017 to register as a foreign agent, but it has challenged Moscow’s use of foreign agent laws in the European Court of Human Rights. The organization has been fined millions of dollars by Russia.