UN expresses ‘concern’ over frequent arrests for treason and espionage in Russia

The UN has expressed concern over the increasing number of arrests for treason and espionage made in Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine last year.

According to UN experts on human rights and freedom of speech, in 2022, 16 people were sentenced in Russia for treason and espionage. At least 43 more people faced similar allegations in 2023.

“Arrest [репортера Wall Street Journal Эвана] Gershkovich underlines the rapid increase in the use of the provisions of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on espionage and treason to deprive people of their liberty in Russia, and we are concerned about this growing trend, said UN Special Rapporteurs Mariana Katsarova and Iren Khan.

Spying is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The amendments that Vladimir Putin signed into law in April increased the maximum penalty for high treason from 20 years to life imprisonment. Treason and espionage cases in Russia are handled behind closed doors.

“It is a dangerous tool given the severity of the allegations and the difficulty of public scrutiny in such cases,” he said to the UN.

Last week, US President Joe Biden said he was “serious” about a prisoner swap involving Gershkowitz.


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