Legal Case of the Week: Prosecutors object to parole for Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Christensen

Week-ending 3 July 2020

Dennis Christensen (behind the windows) talks with his interpreter at the Zheleznodorzhy District Court in Oryol, January 28, 2019 © 2019 Human Rights Watch

Prosecutors in Russia Object to Parole for Jehovah’s Witness

Everything seemed to be in place for Dennis Christensen to leave a Russian prison in early July. On June 23, a judge paroled him, after he served half of a 6-year sentence, while also ordering him to pay a 400,00 ruble (US$5,714) fine. Mr. Christensen was indefensibly prosecuted on charges of “extremism” because of the way he practices religion as a Jehovah’s Witness. Today, Christensen’s lawyer, Anton Bogdanov, confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the prosecutor’s office has appealed the grant of parole, arguing Christensen allegedly violated prison rules. He will remain in custody until a court hearing on the appeal, which could be as late as August. Human Rights Watch, 1 July 2020

Russia: Travesty of justice: Danish Jehovah’s Witness set for release may stay in custody

Reports emerged today that Dennis Christensen, a prisoner of conscience and Jehovah’s Witness from Denmark, has been put into punitive confinement in a Russian penal colony for an alleged minor violation of prison rules. Responding to the news which leaves the prospects of Christensen’s release looking grim, Amnesty International’s Russia Researcher, Natalia Prilutskaya, said: “The Russian authorities clearly have an axe to grind with Dennis Christensen, who is imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of religion. Days after the court opened the way for his early release, state prosecutors are doing all they can to keep him behind bars. This sends a chilling message to dozens of other Jehovah’s Witnesses being persecuted throughout Russia.” Amnesty International, 2 July 2020 


On 25 June, the prosecution appealed the court decision of 23 June to release Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Christensen, a Danish national living in Russia. On 26 June, the penal colony authorities put him into punitive confinement for alleged minor violations of prison rules, further threatening prospects of his release. Dennis Christensen is a prisoner of conscience persecuted solely for his faith and must be released immediately and unconditionally. Amnesty International, 3 July 2020

See also:

Russian Prosecutors Object To Parole For Danish Jehovah’s Witness

Prosecutors in Russia have appealed the parole granted by a court last week to a Danish member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who has been imprisoned since 2017, his lawyer says. A judge in southwestern Russia paroled Dennis Christensen on June 23 after he served half of a six-year sentence on extremism charges that have been condemned by rights groups in Russia and abroad. Christensen was also ordered to pay a fine of 400,000 rubles ($5,800) in place of serving the rest of his sentence. RFE/RL, 1 July 2020

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