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Citizen journalist Lutfiye Zudieva fined by Crimean court again

18.04.2024, 14:32

A Russian court in Crimea fined the Crimean Tatar human rights activist and citizen journalist Lutfiye Zudieva, finding her guilty of "abusing the freedom of mass information," reports ZMINA, citing Zudieva's lawyer Nazim Sheihmambetov.

According to him, the Russian "Center for Combating Extremism" employee who charged Zudieva was present at the hearing.

"The defense presented its well-founded arguments regarding the case, but the court disregarded them," the lawyer said.

Lutfiye herself mentioned that the Russia-appointed judges called her arguments "an attempt to evade administrative penalty" and "a wrong interpretation of Russian law."

"In court, I insisted that the employees of the Center for Combating Extremism approached the case files study in bad faith and drew up the protocol with gross violations. In my opinion, there are severe violations even in the evidence base. But unfortunately, the 'court' did not take this into account," she said.

The journalist and her defense disagree with the occupation court's judgement and will appeal it.

"Of course, we will insist on our stance and, of course, carry on with our journalism and human rights advocacy. Because I believe that my actions did not violate Russia's current legislation in this case," Zudieva said.

On February 22, 2024, officers of Russia's Center for Combating Extremism searched Lutfiye Zudieva's house. After the search, she was taken away to the counter-extremism center, but later released.

The police opened an administrative case against her under Parts 2 and 2.1 of Art. 13.15 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (abuse of freedom of mass information). The investigation was triggered by her Facebook post about the unlawful persecution of alleged Hizb ut-Tahrir members, as she did not mention that Hizb ut-Tahrir is considered a terrorist organization by Russia, and also cited a Radio Liberty article without noting that the media outlet is considered a "foreign agent" by Russian law.

In March 2024, the Russia-controlled Kyiv District Court in Simferopol fined the human rights activist and journalist Lutfiye Zudieva 2,500 rubles (UAH 1,000). Roman Filatov of the Russian Counter-Extremism Center (CEC) charged her with "abuse of freedom of mass information."

According to Zudieva, the judgement was issued without her participation and the court did not review the written objections of the defense. She believes that she is not an offender and as a natural person was not obliged to comply with the requirements, and that the head of the Crimean CEC department Ruslan Shambazov essentially treated her personal Facebook page as a registered media outlet.

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