Sochi (Krasnodar krai), coat of arms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#AceWorldNews says Reporters Without Borders is Shocked by the Way the Russian Police Repeatedly harassed two Norwegian TV journalists , Reporter Oystein Bogen and Cameraman Aage Aune , while They Were Visiting the Sochi Region from 31 October to 2 November to cover problems related to preparations for next February’s Winter Olympics .
Bogen and Aune, WHO work for Norway’s Privately-owned TV2 Channel, Say the Police Stopped Them six times in the space of Three days, interrogated Them in Detail About Their work and Their local contacts and, at one Point, even took Them into custody for several hours.
“Arbitrary arrest, violation of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, seizure of journalistic material – this string of breaches of freedom of information suggests a strategy of all-out harassment,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Sochi / RU, 2007 (Photo credit: william veerbeek)
“The ordeal That These two journalists underwent bodes ill for the drastic Security Measures That Will be Applied in the Run-up to the games . Combatting terrorist threats is obviously necessary but it does not justify such excesses. We hope the Norwegian authorities will quickly obtain the explanations they have requested from their Russian counterparts. ”
“The international media must not be intimidated by this episode. There is nothing criminal about covering the preparations for the Winter Olympics or meeting local journalists and activists. We reiterate our appeal to foreign reporters to take advantage of the spotlight on Sochi to look beyond the Olympic facade and to meet local civil society representatives.
“At the Same time, we Urge Visiting journalists to Take the Necessary Precautions to protect the confidentiality of sources and Their to avoid Surveillance of Their Communications . To this end, we have Made A ‘Digital Survival kit’ available to Them. ”
Bogen and Aune had proper accreditation and used a rental car to travel around Krasnodar, the region where Sochi is located, and to visit the neighbouring autonomous Republic of Adygea.
They were first questioned about their plans and the people they were interviewing on 31 October.They were questioned again, twice, on 1 November in Maykop, Adygea’s capital. At the end of the second session on 1 November, other police officer suddenly arrived, accused Bogen of taking drugs and made him accompany them to a nearby clinic for a drug test. This episode ended after an hour and a half, when a person identifying himself as the local police chief released the two journalists and apologised for the “mistake.”
The next day, they were stopped again and interrogated for an hour between Maykop and Sochi. And they were questioned again in the early evening near Tuapse, a town in the Krasnodar region. This time they were taken into custody without any explanation and were put in a cell with other suspects.
Their equipment was temporarily confiscated and their repeated requests to be allowed to call their embassy were ignored. They were freed at around 10 pm but, as they reached the outskirts of Sochi, they were stopped again.
After searches and a security check, they were taken to the nearest police checkpoint, where an officer questioned Bogen about his private life and his work, going so far as to ask him for a list of the people he planned to meet in Sochi and the places where he planned to film. After being forced to sign a statement without being given a copy, they were finally allowed to continue their way at around 1 am
The Russian foreign ministry gave the two journalists a formal apology yesterday for the “series of unwarranted actions” and said the police responsible would be punished for “abusing their authority.”
Reporters Without Borders Published an in-depth Report in early October About the State of freedom of information in the Sochi Region .
(Photos: TV2 / Oystein Bogen, Aage Aune)
Foreign journalists must not retreat in the face of intimidation
Reporters Without Borders shocked intrusive actions by the police, who were subjected to two Norwegian journalists in Sochi region during from October 31 to November 2, 2013 Reporter private channel TV2 Heist Bogen and operator Ogge Eyun came to the region for reporting problems, related to the organization of the Winter Olympic Games, which begin in February 2014 According to the journalists they were detained by law enforcement officials six times in three days.During the detention of journalists questioned in detail about their professional and local contacts and even placed under arrest without explanation.
“Arbitrary detention, secret neglect of journalistic sources, the confiscation of professional equipment … This set of violations of freedom of information shows determination to expose harassment of two journalists. Their painful stay in the region does not bode well against tough security measures that will be taken in anticipation of the Olympics, starting in January of next year. Combating the threat of terrorism is certainly necessary, but it does not justify such action. We hope that the Norwegian authorities very soon receive an explanation from the Russian leadership, “- said Reporters Without Borders.
“The international media should not allow themselves to be intimidated by this incident. There is nothing criminal to carry reports on the preparation of the Olympic Games and to meet with local journalists and activists. We again appeal to foreign correspondents calling a wide press coverage of Sochi to not be limited to the Olympic theme and meet with civil society. At the same time, we urge to take all necessary precautions to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources of information and to avoid total control of their communications: for this purpose we have available for journalists’ digital survival kit ‘. ”
Heist Bogen and Ogge Eyun – duly accredited journalists. They rented a car for journeys in the Krasnodar region, which is located in Sochi, as well as the neighboring autonomous republic of Adygea. Answering questions for the first time on October 31 about the plans and the persons from whom they interviewed journalists were again a series of interviews on November 1 in Maikop (Adygea). At the end of the second interview arrived at the scene other Interior Ministry officials, accusing Heist Bogen in the use of drugs and forcibly took him to the nearest clinic for a series of tests. Journalists detained after half an hour and then released after a man arrived who introduced himself as the local police chief, and brought them to apologize for making a “mistake.”
Nevertheless, the next day journalists were detained and interrogated again an hour between Maikop and Sochi. Then again, in the late afternoon, near Tuapse (Krasnodar region). But this time the journalists detained without explanation in a cell with other suspects, temporarily withdrawing their equipment. Their repeated requests to contact the embassy were not taken into account. Finally, in the area 22 hours journalists released from custody. However, when reporters finally got to Sochi, they once again detained. After the search and security control procedures, they were taken to a nearby checkpoint where police officer questioned Heist Bogen detail about his personal and professional life, asking to provide a list of persons with whom the latter was planning to meet in Sochi, as well as places that he was going to shoot film. Journalists have not received any copies of their statements, which were forced to sign. They finally were allowed to continue their journey in the morning.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented a formal apology to two journalists on November 6 for “a number of unreasonable actions” that they have experienced. The ministry said that law enforcement officials, “exceeded its authority” will be punished.
Reporters Without Borders published in early October, a report on the status of the investigation in relation to freedom of information in the region of Sochi.