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U.S. Condemns Conviction Of RFE/RL Journalist Semena In Russia-Occupied Crimea

Mykola Semena

The United States on September 25 said it is "deeply troubled" by the conviction of RFE/RL journalist Mykola Semena by a court in Russia-occupied Crimea last week.

The court convicted Semena, 66, on separatism charges and handed down a 2 1/2-year suspended sentence and a ban on future journalistic activity.

"This conviction was based on the fact that Mr. Semena had criticized Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea in his writing," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"We call on the Russian occupation authorities to vacate Mr. Semena's conviction, allow him to resume his journalistic activity, and cease their campaign to stifle dissent in Crimea," she said.

"Crimea remains an integral part of Ukraine, and the United States remains steadfast in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine," she said.

Semena, a contributor to RFE/RL's Krym.Realii (Crimea Realities), was arrested on April 19, 2016, by Russia-imposed authorities and charged with acting against the “territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.’’

Semena says the accusation is politically motivated and that Russian authorities based their case on an inaccurate translation of one of his stories from Ukrainian into Russian.

The European Union and human rights groups have also expressed concern over the case.

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