Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Detained Russian investigative journalist taken to hospital

Ivan Golunov's lawyer believes reporter was beaten by police after being framed for drug possession

Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, charged with attempted drug-dealing, sits inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow on June 8, 2019. / AFP / Vasily MAXIMOV
Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, charged with attempted drug-dealing, sits inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow on June 8, 2019. / AFP / Vasily MAXIMOV

A Russian investigative journalist who was taken into custody this week for alleged drug offences was taken to hospital after feeling unwell, police said on Saturday.

Ivan Golunov, 36, had been on his way to a meeting with a source on Thursday when he was detained in central Moscow and illegal drugs were found in his rucksack, according to police and his employer, the online news portal Meduza.

A lawyer for Mr Golunov, who is known for investigating alleged corruption among Moscow city officials, said he believed police had planted the drugs on his client to frame him and that Mr Golunov had been beaten.

"The detainee ... complained of feeling unwell. An ambulance was called," Moscow City police said in a statement on its website. "Paramedics decided that he should be taken to hospital for examination."

Interfax news agency cited an unnamed paramedic as saying Mr Golunov had chest abrasions, rib bruises and head injuries. The agency later said he had been discharged from hospital and taken to court which, under Russian law, is where he would have to be charged with any offences.

News agency RIA later cited Alexander Myasnikov, chief doctor of the hospital, as saying the medical examination revealed that Mr Golunov did not have any serious injuries.

A Moscow court said it received a request from investigators to hold Mr Golunov in custody on drug charges and he was expected to be brought to the court. He could either be placed under arrest in custody, subject to house arrest, released on bail, or released with travel restrictions.

The court may also extend his detention by 72 hours.

The US embassy called on the Russian authorities to free Mr Golunov and ensure the transparency of the investigation, Interfax reported.

The editorial management of Meduza, which is based in Latvia, has said Mr Golunov received threats in recent months in connection with a story he was working on.

A number of independent reporters in Russia have been prosecuted, threatened or killed. In 2017, journalist Yulia Latynina was forced to flee Russia after a series of attacks.

Updated: June 9, 2019 11:07 AM

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