FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016 file photo, colleagues of jailed journalist Roman Sushchenko display banners with his image during a protest in front of the Russian Embassy demanding his release in Kiev, Ukraine. A court in the Russian capital has convicted a Ukrainian journalist of spying and sentenced him to 12 years in prison. Roman Sushchenko, a correspondent for Ukrinform, Ukraine's state news agency, has been in custody since his arrest in 2016 by the Russian counter-intelligence agency, the FSB. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced the verdict made on Monday, June 4, 2018 by the Moscow City Court as a show of “unprecedented cynicism.” (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

Ukrainian journalist convicted on spying charges in Russia

June 04, 2018 - 5:41 pm

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court convicted a journalist for Ukraine's state news agency Monday of spying and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Ukrinform correspondent Roman Sushchenko has been in custody since his 2016 arrest by Russia's top domestic security agency, the FSB. The FSB alleged he was a Ukrainian military intelligence officer collecting sensitive information about the Russian armed forces. Sushchenko denied the accusation.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced Monday's verdict by the Moscow City Court as a show of "unprecedented cynicism." The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded the journalist's immediate release.

Harlem Desir, a media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a top security and rights group, deplored the sentence and reiterated his call for Sushchenko to be let go.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also urged Russia to immediately set Sushchenko free.

Sushchenko's sentencing comes amid a bitter tug-of-war between Ukraine and Russia, triggered by Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Last month, Ukraine's state security agency raided offices of state-owned Russian media outlets and arrested the head of Ukraine's office of the Russian state RIA-Novosti news agency, Kirill Vyshinskiy.

Vyshinskiy was detained on treason charges pending an investigation. Moscow has angrily assailed his jailing as an attack on freedom of speech.

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