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Leading Newspapers In Daghestan Demand Journalist's Release

Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev, the religious-affairs editor of Chernovik, was charged with financing terrorism.

MAKHACHKSALSA, Russia -- Three leading newspapers in Russia's North Caucasus region of Daghestan have published a joint editorial on their front pages to demand the immediate release of journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev, who was arrested on what they called "trumped up" terrorism charges.

Gadzhiyev's independent Chernovik newspaper and two other weeklies, Svobodnaya respublika (Free Republic) and Novoye delo (New Cause), published editorials on June 21 with a large headline reading: "I Am/We Are Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev."

The move was similar to what major Russian newspapers in Moscow did earlier in June to demand the release of detained investigative journalist Ivan Golunov.

Gadzhiyev, the religious-affairs editor of Chernovik, was detained on June 14 and charged with financing terrorism. On June 18, a court in Makhachkala ordered that he be held in pretrial detention for two months.

The charge against Gadzhiyev was based on testimony by another suspect, who subsequently claimed that he was tortured by authorities and forced to make the accusations.

Prosecutors say Gadzhiyev sent money to charities that are allegedly involved in funding the Islamic State (IS) extremist group and other militants. Gadzhiyev and his colleagues deny the accusations.

Chernovik has dismissed the charge and compared the case with that of Golunov.

Golunov was arrested on June 6 in Moscow for allegedly attempting to sell illegal drugs. He was released on June 11 after the charges were dropped amid a public outcry and claims that evidence against him had been planted by police.

On June 19, the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders urged the Russian authorities to free Gadzhiyev.