Strana Editor-in-Chief Flees, Seeks Asylum in Austria after Receiving Death Threats

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Year 06 Feb 2018 Country Ukraine Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
06 Feb 2018 Ukraine C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1
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The editor-in-chief of news website Strana.ua, Igor Guzhva, fled Ukraine on 31 January 2018 after receiving death threats and is now seeking asylum in Austria. In a statement published by Strana, Guzhva said that he decided to flee after Ukrainian law enforcement agencies ignored several requests to investigate the threats against him. He said other Strana journalists had also received threats. Guzhva said in his statement that he was able to leave Ukraine after a court order preventing him from leaving the country expired on 6 January. In his open letter to the president of Ukraine, Guzhva said that since the website's first day of activity the editorial staff had been subjected to "unprecedented pressure from the authorities." He recalled that five criminal cases have been files against him, including extortion charges. In June, the country's National Security Service (SBU) searched Strana's Kiev office and briefly arrested Guzhva for allegedly demanding a 10,000 USD bribe in exchange for not publishing reportedly compromising materials on a politician. Speaking to CPJ after being released on bail, Guzhva denied all charges and called the case a "witch hunt" against him. He said the Ukrainian authorities "want to close [Strana] and put me in jail." Guzhva is set to retain his position as editor-in-chief of the website and continue to lead the editorial board from abroad.

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