A Russian military court sentenced Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev, a former editor and journalist, to 17 years in a maximum security prison colony, on charges that human rights organisations maintain are politically motivated.
Gadzhiyev was found guilty of participating in the activities of a terrorist community, organising its financing, and participating in an extremist community, charges that the journalist denies.
Gadzhiyev was arrested in 2019 while working as an editor and journalist for Chernovik, an independent Daghestani outlet.
Gadzhiyev had edited the religion section of the newspaper, and was accused at the time of transferring funds to organisations ‘spreading […] Islamic extremism’. A year after his arrest, Gadzhiyev faced new charges of ‘organising the activity of an extremist organisation’.
According to Sapa Kavkaz, a Telegram channel reporting on the North Caucasus, approximately 30 people came to the court to support the journalist. It adds that the Russian Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova and the Union of Journalists of Russia have expressed their support for Gadzhiyev.
Memorial, a leading Russian human rights centre, has declared Hajiyev a political prisoner, with international human rights organisation Amnesty International also declaring him a prisoner of conscience. Reporters Without Borders and the International Committee to Protect Journalists have demanded Gadzhiyev’s release.
The court reportedly found Gadzhiyev guilty of collecting and sending a total of over $800,000 to terrorist organisations, together with charitable foundation head Abubakar Rizvanov and programmer Kemal Tambiyev.
According to Chernovik, Gadzhiyev was detained in relation to ‘inconvenient questions’ that the outlet put to government officials and security forces.
During the investigation, a number of witnesses stated that they had not given testimonies attributed to them, with others stating that they had been threatened by the security forces. Some refused to answer the lawyers’ questions, citing memory and head problems.
According to Sapa Kavkaz, Gadzhiyev stated in court that while he did not hope for any significant changes, he planned to appeal the verdict.
‘Based on our practice and the sentences we have seen, the maximum they will decrease a sentence by is a year. However, concerning cassation, there are enough examples where they sort out serious errors’, Gadzhiyev reportedly said.
The prosecutor reportedly requested 19 years in a high-security prison colony for Gadzhiyev and other defendants, on the basis of Gadzhiyev, Rizvanov, and Kemalov’s participation in and financing of organisations banned in Russia, including the Islamic State, the Congress of the Peoples of Ichkeria and Daghestan, the Supreme Military Majlisul Shura of the United Mujahideen Forces of the Caucasus.