The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have condemned the Russian government's decision to expel US journalist David Satter and called for them to allow him to return to the country.
According to media reports, Satter, a longtime critic of Russian President Valimir Putin, has been banned from Russia in one of the first such expulsions since the Cold War. He had travelled to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on December 5 to report on the mass protests there, but was told on December 25 that his application for a new visa to Russia had been rejected on the grounds that his presence was "undesirable," but no other reason was given.
Satter, a former Financial Times correspondent, had been living and working in the country since last September as an adviser for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He has insisted that "the Kiev reporting was a diary and had nothing to do with the Russian decision."
"The decision of the Russian government to expel the highly respected journalist David Satter undermines the country's commitment to freedom of expression and basic human rights," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We call on Russia authorities to reverse their decision and allow Satter to reenter the country, so he can return to his home and continue his work as a journalist."
According to reports, the US Embassy in Moscow has been informed of the move and lodged a formal diplomatic protest. US Embassy officials have sought an explanation, but have not obtained one from Russian authorities.
"Satter has done nothing wrong, but it seems that the Russian government has taken this opportunity to rid themselves of a journalist who dares to question their methods and reveal the truth about wrongdoings," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.
"Unfortunately we have seen other similar exclusions of journalists, such as the Danish newspaper reporter Vibeke Sperling, who was a correspondent in Russia for many years before being expelled ten years ago. We urge Russian authorities to revise their view on foreign journalists doing their job."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries