Home News Russia detains French citizen on suspicion of collecting military data

Russia detains French citizen on suspicion of collecting military data

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Russian investigators said on Thursday they had detained a French citizen in Moscow on suspicion of gathering intelligence on the activities of the Russian military, adding to the list of foreign nationals detained in the country since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian state news agency TASS Identified The detainee’s name is Laurent Vinatier, the agency said, citing law enforcement sources. The agency said Mr. Vinatier was employed as a consultant by the Swiss nonprofit Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

The center states on its website: mission is to “prevent and resolve armed conflicts around the world through mediation and careful diplomacy”.

In response to a request for comment, the nonprofit confirmed that Mr. Vinatiel did serve as a consultant and had been detained by Russia.

“We are working to get more details about the situation and secure Laurent’s release,” the center said.

According to his contour On the social network LinkedIn, he lists duties such as “conducting meetings,” “meditation,” and “delivering information.” He also works as a risk consultant, researcher, and lecturer at several schools and institutes, focusing primarily on Russia.

Western journalists and researchers visiting or living in Russia since the outbreak of all-out war in Ukraine have found it increasingly dangerous to work in the country as they are caught in the worst crisis in relations between Moscow and the West in decades.

Russia’s National Investigative Committee said in a statement statement The detained French nationals will be charged with failing to register as “foreign agents”, a charge punishable by up to five years in prison.

The statement said the detainees had met with Russian citizens during their multiple visits to Russia and “purposely collected information about the sphere of Russian military and military-technical activities” that “could be used to harm national security.”

The agency published A video The video showed security officers detaining a man in jeans and a black shirt, whose face was blurred, as he sat on a balcony outside a restaurant in central Moscow.

Mr Vinatiel is one of a number of Westerners held in Russia, including Evan Gershkovichreporter for The Wall Street Journal; Paul Whelana former U.S. Marine; Arsu Kurmashevaan editor working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

A St. Petersburg court on Wednesday explain Yuri Malev, a Russian-American, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in Russia after he posted memes and other posts on social media criticizing the country, its leaders and its war in Ukraine.

Russia has detained Westerners in recent years, sparking concerns that the Kremlin is trying to use them as leverage to exchange Russians held in the West.

Aurelien Brittain Contributed reporting.

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