Drugs charges against investigative reporter Ivan Golunov have been dropped, Russian officials said today.
Golunov (pictured) was arrested in Moscow on Thursday and later charged with possessing drugs with intent to supply.
He was subsequently put under house arrest and could have faced 20 years in prison if he was convicted.
The charges against Golunov have now been dropped, one day after three of Russia’s biggest newspapers joined together to publish a front page protesting his arrest.
The accusations against Golunov “have not been proven”, government minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said.
Kolokoltsev said Golunov has been released from house arrest, and that he intends to seek the dismissal of three senior police officials and to investigate others involved in the case.
Golunov denied possessing drugs, and the circumstances of his case aroused suspicion among rights activists that he had been framed.
He was not allowed to contact a lawyer for more than 12 hours after his arrest, his request for a test on his hands to be done that would show whether he had been in recent contact with drugs was denied, and he was reportedly beaten up during his detention.
The journalist writes for Russian-language news website Meduza, based in Latvia, and is known for investigating political corruption and criminality in Moscow. Meduza said he had recently been threatened.
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) said this afternoon celebrated Golunov’s release, saying: “We hail the historic mobilisation of the Russian civil society. Now those who tried to set him up must be judged.
“We will remain mobilised for the other journalists jailed in Russia.”
Russia is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index 2019.
Picture: Evgeny Feldman/meduza.io via AP