PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has said it considers a “confession” of spying for the Ukrainian government given by Ukrainian blogger and RFE/RL contributor Stanislav Aseyev in a report aired on Russian state TV channel Rossiya 24 today to be highly questionable, and that it could signal an escalation of his case.
"We question the circumstances of this purported confession. We have no idea when it was made, or under what conditions or duress," said RFE/RL spokesperson Joanna Levison. "We continue to demand that Stanislav Aseyev be released from detention immediately."
Aseyev has been held incommunicado by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since June 2017 in connection with his reporting on the conflict in the region. Rights groups have expressed concerns about his whereabouts, and that he has been subject to threats and possibly torture during his detention. International rights monitors have been denied access to him, and it has been reported that Aseyev is waging a hunger strike to protest his conditions and failure to receive medical care.
In a statement issued earlier this month, the U.S. Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus described Aseyev as "one of the few independent journalists to remain in the region under separatist control to provide objective reporting," and called for his immediate release. On July 20, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also called for Aseyev’s release.