“My arrest is a message to free journalism.” "Court" in the occupied Crimea "arrested" in absentia the ATR presenter Gulsum Halilova for two months
Gulsum Khalilova, the presenter of Crimean Tatar ATR channel was “arrested” in absentia for two months by a “court” in occupied Crimea.
It turned out that the decision of the “Kiev District Court” of Simferopol was rendered on July 12. The journalist herself was not notified of initiating “proceedings” against her. She learned about it from social networks.
Gulsum Khalilova shared her assessment of the situation with QHA media.
How do you regard the fact of your “arrest” in absentia?
This is the targeted policies of the Russian Federation against all those who are dissenting and inconvenient for it.
I regard this like the detention of dozens of other Crimean Tatars, the detention of civic activists, including Nariman Memedeminov, Server Mustafayev. This is the targeted policies of the Russian Federation against all those who are dissenting and inconvenient for it.
In this case, through the prism of Gulsum Khalilova, it is such a message to free journalism that speaks of repression in the Crimea.
This is a message, first of all, to the ATR channel, which moved from the occupied Crimea and continues to work here, to fight for freedom of speech and tell about repressions in Crimea. I am part of this large television channel.
I perceive this solely as pressure on pluralism and pressure on freedom of speech.
And how do you think – why was the case brought against you?
I worked there as a field journalist and performed solely my journalistic duties.
According to my lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, I am accused of participating in an armed formation banned in Russia, that is, participating in the Noman Celebidzhikhan battalion.
From the beginning of the Civil blockade of the Crimea – from September 20, 2015 to January 1, 2016 – I worked with it as a field journalist and performed solely my journalistic duties. As I understand it, they had to find my guilt in something, and they decided to accuse me of participating in this battalion.
In fact, my words are very easy to verify. If all the broadcasts of the ATR channel from September 20, 2015 until January 1, 2016 are analyzed, one will see that I went live daily, did stories, interviewed and talked about what was happening as part of the civil blockade of Crimea. I believe it was precisely because I worked there that they decided to somehow get me involved in this entire process. They needed to make up with something.
Someone is charged with participating in Hizb ut-Tahrir for being more religious. Someone is accused of extorting money for helping veterans. And me – because I worked precisely on the blockade – I was accused of participating in some armed gangs.
They had to “create” something.
Do you visit Crimea?
I left Crimea in 2015. And since then I haven’t been in Crimea. Of course, I’m in fear of my life. Like everyone who is in the territory of Crimea, actually. And the one who speaks of repression falls into prison. Understanding these risks, I have not entered the Crimea since 2015.
Did today’s events make you upset?
You know – not at all. Because if they do something of this kind, it means they are confused. This suggests that all journalists who speak of repression are on the right track. It means we’re getting in their way, therefore we are doing everything right.
What are your plans for further work?
I will work even harder.
The prosecutor’s office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea opened criminal proceedings for prosecuting a knowingly innocent person (part 2 of article 372 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). Journalist Gulsum Khalilova is recognized as a victim.