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Sputnik news executive Marat Kasem charged with espionage in Latvia
Marat Kasem, editor-in-chief of Sputnik Litva (the Lithuanian division of the pro-Kremlin news outlet Sputnik), was taken into custody in Latvia, reports RIA Novosti.
According to sources cited by RIA Novosti, Kasem is suspected of espionage and violating EU sanctions against Russia. On December 5, 2022, a court in Riga issued an order for his arrest.
Russia Today CEO Dmitry Kiselev says that Kasem is a Latvian citizen. Although he lived and worked in Moscow for the past several years, on December 30 he traveled to Latvia for family reasons. Kiselev qualified his arrest as “obviously a political persecution, entirely unlawful, absurd, and ungrounded.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova claims that, about six months ago, Kasem complained about being persecuted for his work in the Baltic countries. “Now he is under arrest,” wrote Zakharova on Telegram. “This is the dictatorial regimes’ vengeance for his freedom, his truth, and his principles.”
In May 2019, Marat Kasem was detained at the Vilnius airport and banned from entering Lithuania for the next five years. The following July, Lithuanian authorities ruled to block Sputnik Litva, citing copyright violations.
Latvia, too, has blocked Sputnik’s Web pages and detained its employees in the past. The agency has also complained about being pressured by Estonian authorities.
Both Sputnik and RIA Novosti belong to the Russia Today media group.
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