Maria Ponomarenko: Russian journalist sentenced to six years in prison for Telegram post on Mariupol theater strike
A Russian court has sentenced journalist Maria Ponomarenko to six years in prison for a Telegram post that the court said spread “false information,” state news agency TASS said on Wednesday.
Ponomarenko was detained last April and charged with publishing “false information” on her Telegram channel about a Russian airstrike on a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, that killed hundreds, and for which Russian authorities deny responsibility.
A court in Russia’s city of Barnaul in Western Siberia sentenced Ponomarenko to “six years of jail time in a general regime correctional colony,” the press service of the court said in a statement according to TASS.
Ponomarenko will have “no right to engage in activities related to the administration of websites, public channels of electronic and information and telecommunication networks, including the Internet, for a period of five years,” the press service of the Leninsky District Court of Barnaul added.
Earlier in February, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Russian authorities to “immediately release journalist Maria Ponomarenko” along with columnist Iskander Yasaveyev and “stop prosecuting members of the press over their reporting and commentary on the war in Ukraine.”
Ponomarenko’s employer, RusNews, said on Telegram that the journalist’s several-month stint in a pre-trial detention center had led to her psychological deterioration, which culminated in a suicide attempt in September. Ponomarenko is a mother of two.
“At least 19 journalists were behind bars in Russia on December 1, 2022, when CPJ conducted its most recent prison census. CPJ emailed the Ministry of Justice for comment on both cases, but did not receive any responses,” CPJ statement added.