Russia court detains French citizen for allegedly collecting military information News
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Russia court detains French citizen for allegedly collecting military information

The Zamoskvoretsky court in Moscow ordered the detention of French citizen Laurent Vinatier on Friday, accusing him of collecting information on military issues in Russia. Specifically, Vinatier has been charged with violating the rules of foreign agents’ activity under Part 3 of Article 330.1 of the Russian Criminal Code. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Vinatier has admitted guilt to the charges and according to Russia’s Investigative Committee, this information could potentially be used against the security of the state if obtained by foreign sources.

Laurent Vinatier, 47, is a consultant for the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, an organization focused on conflict mediation and resolution through discreet diplomacy. Vinatier has a background in researching Russia and other post-Soviet countries. The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue has expressed deep concern over Vinatier’s arrest. In a statement, the organization emphasized that Vinatier’s work was focused on conflict resolution and humanitarian dialogue, and called for his immediate release.

The arrest has drawn significant international concern. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for Vinatier’s immediate release, describing the charges as unfounded. Macron emphasized that Vinatier was not working for the French government and was solely an employee of a Swiss NGO.

Before Vinatier’s arrest, Russia has invoked laws governing foreign agents to detain Westerners. Notable cases include US journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges, and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned for over five years on similar accusations. Both have denied the charges and have been declared “wrongfully detained” by the US government.

Vinatier’s case is still in the investigative stage and he is to remain in custody until August 5, pending further investigation and trial. His arrest comes days after France’s National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office detained a Russian-Ukrainian man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorism after injuring himself in an explosion.