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Russian Court Upholds Prison Sentence For Danish Jehovah's Witness

Dennis Christensen is escorted into a courtroom to hear his verdict in the town of Oryol on February 6.
Dennis Christensen is escorted into a courtroom to hear his verdict in the town of Oryol on February 6.

A court in Russia on May 23 ruled to uphold a six-year prison sentence for a Danish adherent of the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses, a decision condemned by Amnesty International.

Dennis Christensen was detained in May 2017 in Oryol, some 320 kilometers south of Moscow.

A Russian court in February sentenced him to six years in prison in a case condemned both in Russia and abroad.

Russia banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017, declaring the group an “extremist organization.”

A court in Oryol on May 23 ruled on his appeal.

"The three-judge panel denied the appeal and upheld the six-year sentence he received in February," Jehovah's Witnesses spokesman Jarrod Lopes said in a statement.

Lopes said 197 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are facing criminal charges. Twenty-eight 28 men and women among them are being held in pretrial detention and 24 are under house arrest, Lopes said.

Amnesty International slammed the court action in Oryol as “an affront to the rights to freedom of religion and association.”

“The authorities missed an opportunity to overturn the grim injustice done to Dennis Christensen, who was thrown behind bars solely for exercising his right to freedom of religion and peacefully held belief. Dennis Christensen should be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Natalia Prilutskaya, Amnesty International’s Russia researcher.

With reporting by Reuters
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