Russian investigative journalist detained in Moscow

Russian investigative journalist detained in Moscow

A prominent investigative journalist specializing in government and private corruption was arrested in Moscow on allegations of drug dealing.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Ivan Golunov, a columnist for the independent Russian media network Meduza, was arrested Thursday afternoon and charged with possession of mephedrone, colloquially known as "bath salts."

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Galina Timchenko, Meduza's director general, told the AP that his co-worker showed signs of having been beaten while in police custody. Police have denied this, and claimed in a press release that Golunov's arrest was related to an operation aimed at breaking up a drug ring in Moscow.

“We are convinced that Ivan Golunov is innocent,” the news outlet said in a statement.

“What’s more, we have reasons to believe that Golunov is being persecuted for his journalism. We know that Vanya [Golunov] has been receiving threats in recent months, and we know which particular unfinished story they relate to," Meduza added.

Other journalists in the country have sounded off on social media bout Golunov's arrest, including one broadcaster who reportedly tweeted that it was "easy" for police to "find" a drug lab at a suspect's house, insinuating that such evidence had been staged.

“Golunov’s detention is not so much about the crackdown on journalists,” Alexei Pivovarov tweeted, according to the AP. “It’s about the fact that they can come after anyone. Because it’s dead easy to find a drugs lab at your place.”

Amnesty International also denounced Golunov's arrest, calling it 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.

“Ivan Golunov is a prominent critic and his investigations into government corruption clearly did not go down well with the authorities," she added. "It seems he is now paying the price.”