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Russia1 July 2008

New Times editor asks Medvedev to put a stop to persecution of Moldovan employee

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The editor of The New Times, a Moscow-based weekly, has written to President Dmitri Medvedev asking him to put a stop to the government’s persecution of one of her employees, Moldovan journalist Natalia Morar, who has been prevented from re-entering Russia for more than six months.

In her letter, editor Irina Lesnevskaya appeals to Medvedev as someone with legal training to close the “national security” case against Morar. “You can, with just a signature, close this terrible case for good,” the letter says. “It is shameful to see how a system that is supposed to defend national security is targeting a 24-year-old journalist.”

Reporters Without Borders said: “We support this request by The New Times. Morar should never have been denied entry to Russia. We hope President Medvedev will use this opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to press freedom.”

A Moscow University graduate and married to a Russian journalist, Morar had worked for The New Times in Moscow since its creation in February 2007. She was prevented from reentering the country on national security grounds on her return from a trip abroad in December and all her subsequent attempts to reenter since then have also been fruitless.

She has also tried unsuccessfully through the courts to obtain information about the reasons for the ban and to have the behaviour of the immigration police declared illegal. And she never received a response to the Russian citizenship application she submitted on 17 July 2007, although the law says she should have received a reply within nine months.

Read the letter to Dmitri Medvedev, in Russian

Call for ban on journalist to be lifted

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