Russian investigative journalist freed from house arrest following public fury
© Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

A Russian investigative journalist was freed from house arrest Tuesday, according to Russian officials, following widespread outcry from reporters in Russia and around the world.

Ivan Golunov, a columnist for the independent Russian media network Meduza, was arrested Thursday and charged with possession of mephedrone, or "bath salts,” according to The Associated Press.

Golunov’s work focused on government and private corruption.

ADVERTISEMENT
 

“According to the results of biological, forensic, fingerprinting and genetic examinations, a decision was made to terminate the criminal prosecution of citizen I. Golunov due to the lack of evidence of his participation in the crime. Today he will be released from house arrest, and the charges dropped,” Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Russian Minister of Internal Affairs, said in a statement Tuesday, as translated by Google.

Meduza’s director general, Galina Timchenko told the AP last week he was confident Golunov was innocent and that he showed signs of being beaten while in police custody.

On Monday, Russia’s three business newspapers all published front pages protesting Golunov’s arrest. By 11:30 a.m. local time, all three papers had nearly sold out in Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to Meduza.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also slammed the arrest, tweeting “I am/We are #IvanGolunov” in solidarity.

Amnesty International called Golunov's arrest a blatant act of censorship.

“Everything indicates that the authorities are planting drugs on their targets to shut them up with a jail sentence,” Nataliya Zviagina, Amnesty's Russia office director, told the AP.

Kolokoltsev said in his statement he would be petitioning Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTurkey and Russia are not friends, despite appearances O'Rourke: Trump 'made a mess of our foreign policy' O'Rourke: Trump 'made a mess of our foreign policy' MORE “for the release from office” of several high-ranking law enforcement officials in Russia over the incident, including the Major General of the Police and the head of the Directorate for Drug Control, among others, as translated by Google.