The European Ombudsman Institute (EOI) made and official statement on the arrest and extradition of Mr. Alexander Lapshin and protection of freedom of speech. The statement is presented below:
“It is a matter of deep concern that a journalist and blogger Mr. Alexander Lapshin was arrested and then extradited.
The described situation tends to turn to an unacceptable situation violating freedom of expression and media.
Considering the fact that visits of civil society actors and journalists to Nagorno-Karabakh have invaluable significance in humanitarian sense and providing objective information about the situation there. Any action towards territorial limitation for fulfilling media representatives’ democratic mission is strongly condemnable. This decision on A. Lapshin’s extradition is a real threat to freedom of expression and media that lie at the heart of European values, as well as seriously endangers human rights values.
Apart from this, the extradition of Mr. Alexander Lapshin is very concerning because of real possibility of his torture and inhuman treatment. Clear sign of ill-treatment against Mr. Lapshin is that his arrest and transfer into another region was largely disseminated in media: handcuffed, apprehended by military in masks and with guns. Such treatment towards a journalist is impermissible.
It is especially worrying that someone, according to the information already received from some journalists, has sent letters to some of journalists with threats to prosecute them for their journalistic activties. It is not acceptable to use this impermissible step for artificial prosecutions and infringement of journalists’ and civil activists’ rights.
The European Ombudsman Institute welcomes the importance of reactions protecting freedom of speech in any territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and other regions, already delivered by the OSCE special representative for freedom of the media, some EU officials and human rights defender organizations.
For preventing such kind of vicious practice it should be preliminary confronted with strong condemnation”.