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JUNE 28, 2017

Court Rejects Appeal Against the Pretrial Detention of Dennis Christensen

On June 21, 2017, the Oryol Regional Court rejected an appeal against the pretrial detention of Dennis Christensen. Mr. Christensen, a Danish citizen, was arrested on May 25, 2017, during a raid by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents and masked and armed police officers for participating in a religious meeting held by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Russian Federation Supreme Court recently declared that the legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are “extremist” and ruled to terminate immediately the activities of the Witnesses’ legal entities. The officers who raided the Witnesses’ religious services on May 25 told the attendees that they would be subject to charges of continuing the activity of an organization liquidated for extremism. The FSB requested a court order to keep Mr. Christensen in pretrial detention until July 23, 2017—although he is a peaceful individual without a criminal record—in order to allow time to build a case against him on extremism charges.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are appealing the unjust Supreme Court ruling and are also preparing a defense of their right to continue their peaceful worship without hindrance, as guaranteed by the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.