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10 Jan, 2020 13:22

OSCE 'closely following' case of news agency Sputnik, whose journalists face pressure from Estonian police

OSCE 'closely following' case of news agency Sputnik, whose journalists face pressure from Estonian police

The OSCE is monitoring a situation regarding Sputnik Estonia news agency, whose journalists have been threatened with criminal prosecution by local police unless they terminate their employment contracts, the organization told RT.

The OSCE's media freedom chief, Harlem Desir, "is closely following the situation of Sputnik Estonia," the organization's secretary-general, Thomas Greminger, confirmed to RT in a statement.

Greminger said that "concerns" about media freedom have been conveyed to Estonia, and Desir had asked local authorities to provide more information about the case.

He has also encouraged the Estonian authorities to refrain from putting any unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign journalists or media.

On Thursday, tensions surrounding Sputnik Estonia were officially listed among the 'media freedom alerts' on the Council of Europe's website. The case was registered under the 'other acts having chilling effects on media freedom' category.

Estonian police have been sending letters to journalists working for Sputnik's bureau in the nation's capital, Tallinn, in which they threatened them with "criminal liability" unless they cut all work ties with Russian state-owned media agency Rossiya Segodnya, Sputnik's parent company.

Also on rt.com Harassment of Sputnik reporters by police in Estonia ‘beyond all existing norms’: Journalist groups call to protect colleagues

The officials insisted that this was completely lawful, since the head of Rossiya Segodnya, veteran journalist and media producer Dmitry Kiselyov, has been sanctioned by the EU since Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

Rossiya Segodnya slammed the actions of Estonian police as a "flagrant violation of the freedom of speech," and said that Sputnik's employees in Estonia had been pressured into terminating their employment contracts with the agency.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), as well as Russian officials, voiced their support for Sputnik, stressing that the harassment of reporters is unacceptable.

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