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San Francisco Demands U.S. State Department to Designate Alsu Kurmasheva as “Wrongfully Detained”

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Alsu Kurmasheva: RFE/RL Journalist Detained in Kazan, Russia
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Alsu Kurmasheva: RFE/RL Journalist Detained in Kazan, Russia (photo: google)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is going to officially say that Russian-American writer Alsu Kurmasheva is “wrongfully detained.” He will also promise that the U.S. government will do everything it can to help her family get her released. Kurmasheva, who is a citizen of both the United States and Russia, was arrested in Kazan on October 18 on charges of not registering as a foreign agent. However, sources say she was targeted because she was a writer. She is the latest victim of the Kremlin’s war on free media.

Kurmasheva’s case is a symbol of Moscow’s growing attack on media freedom. There is a worrisome pattern of taking foreign journalists hostage and punishing them, which hurts independent domestic media. It is very important that the U.S. The Department of State has publicly declared Kurmasheva “wrongfully detained,” as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has asked them to do. Civil society groups and RSF worked together to write a letter to Secretary Blinken, and RSF also helped members of Congress write their own letters in support of the name.

People compare this to how quickly the State Department responded to the case of Evan Gershkovich, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, who was found to have been wrongly held just two weeks after being arrested in March 2023. The different ways that Kurmasheva’s case was handled raise questions, and the U.S. government has not yet provided a clear reason for the difference.

The head of RSF USA, Clayton Weimers, said that Kurmasheva is a target of Moscow’s attack on media because of political disagreements with the US. Weimers pushed for her quick release and the charges against her to be dropped. He said that as an American journalist who was being targeted for her work, Kurmasheva should have the full backing of her government in order to get her freedom.

Kurmasheva and Gershkovich are the first American reporters to be held in Russia since the end of the Cold War. When the case of Gershkovich was first handled quickly, it gave people hope that the Biden Administration would make freeing jailed American media a top priority. But the different ways of treating Kurmasheva’s case have raised worries in the press freedom community, and the U.S. government has not yet given a clear reason for the difference.


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