Russian court extends detention of two journalists

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court has extended the pre-trial detention of two journalists accused by the authorities of taking part in the activities of an "extremist" organisation founded by late opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Moscow's Basmanny court said in a statement late on Tuesday that the detention of Konstantin Gabov, a freelance journalist who had in the past worked for Reuters, and Sergei Karelin, who had in the past worked for the Associated Press, was extended until late September.

Gabov and Karelin are accused of preparing material for a YouTube channel, "Navalny Live", run by allies of Navalny, who died in an Arctic prison in February. The charge both men are accused of carries a jail sentence of up to six years.

Both were shown in a glass cage in the courtroom. Neither could be reached for comment.

"Gabov is a freelance journalist who in the past occasionally contributed to the Reuters news file," a Reuters spokesperson said when asked for comment.

"Reuters is deeply committed to freedom of the press and opposes the arrest and detention of any journalist for reasons related to reporting," the spokesman said. "Journalists must be free to report the news in the public interest without fear of harassment or harm, wherever they are."

Associated Press did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russian authorities have banned Navalny's movement as extremist and have cast the late politician as a U.S.-backed troublemaker out to foment revolution in order to destabilise Russia.

Many Russian journalists working for non-state outlets fled the country after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022 and introduced tough new laws which mandated jail terms for people deemed to have discredited the Russian army or to be distributing what the authorities regard as fake news about the military.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alison Williams)