A court in Russian-occupied Crimea has extended the detention of an RFE/RL freelance correspondent by six months as hundreds were set to rally in Ukraine for his release.
A court in Simferopol ruled on July 6 that Vladyslav Yesypenko, who has been detained since March, will remain behind bars until December as he awaits trial.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Yesypenko, a dual Russian-Ukrainian citizen who contributes to Crimea.Realities, a regional news outlet of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, on suspicion of collecting information for Ukrainian intelligence.
During his apprehension, the FSB claimed that it found an object 'looking like an explosive device' in his automobile and he was later charged with 'making firearms.'
The crime is punishable by up to six years in prison.
Yesypenko testified during a closed-door court hearing in April that he was tortured with electric shocks, beaten, and threatened with death unless he 'confessed' to spying on behalf of Ukraine, his lawyer reported at the time.
Human rights activists and journalists plan to gather on Maidan Square in Kyiv on July 6 to express support for Yesypenko and call for his release. A similar demonstration is planned in Vinnytsya in western Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba earlier in the day took to Twitter to demand his release.
Russia has sought to crush dissent in Crimea, including prosecuting journalists and human rights activists, since seizing the Ukrainian peninsula in March 2014.
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