Group Protests Detained Russian Journalist

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(AP) Four organizers of a demonstration against a journalist’s conviction for treason were detained and are due in court Wednesday, Russian media reported.

The four were among about 20 people at the Monday rally at Moscow’s Lubyanka square, the former KGB headquarters and home to its successor agency, the Interfax news agency reported Tuesday. The four received summons to appear in court, the report said without naming specific charges.

The demonstration was held on behalf of military journalist Grigory Pasko, who was convicted last month for illegally attending a secret meeting of Russian Pacific Fleet commanders in 1997 and possessing notes he made at the meeting. Pasko has said authorities are pursuing him for exposing alleged environmental abuses by the navy, including dumping radioactive waste into the Sea of Japan.

The protesters wrote the word “ecology” in the snow and carried a sign saying, “Pasko named a spy. Who next?” Police asked them to take down the sign 16 minutes after the protest began, according to Interfax. The demonstration lasted a half-hour.

At the rally, Sergei Mitrokhin, deputy leader of the liberal Yabloko party, called for more attention to be given to the case and pleaded with Russian leaders to “restore justice,” Interfax said.

Amnesty International has labeled Pasko a “prisoner of conscience” and said his conviction was a violation of his right to freedom of expression.

In a statement Monday, the human rights group said Pasko’s conviction “chills legitimate inquiry into matters of public interest.” Amnesty called for his immediate release.

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