21 June 2022
According to the investigators, Alberto Giraldo was engaged in mass mailing of messages about crimes of the Russian military in Ukraine
The Human Rights Project ‘Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ based on international standards, considers Colombian citizen Alberto Enrique Giraldo Saray a political prisoner. A criminal case was opened against him for sending messages about the killings of Ukrainian civilians by Russian soldiers. Alberto Giraldo is being prosecuted for exercising the right to freedom of expression and in order to intimidate in Russia all opponents of the war against Ukraine.
We demand that Alberto Giraldo be released immediately and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.
Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code on the dissemination of ‘fake news’ about the Russian army is unlawful in nature. It has been created as a means of censorship and repression against critics of the authorities and as such should be rescinded. Any prosecutions under this article are unlawful and must be terminated.
What are the charges against Alberto Giraldo?
Colombian citizen Alberto Giraldo has been living and working in Moscow for more than twenty years. He started a family in Russia and has a daughter who is a minor.
On 10 April 2022 he was arrested on charges of spreading ‘fake news’ about the actions of the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 2, Paragraph b, of the Russian Criminal Code).
The next day Basmanny district court in Moscow remanded Alberto Giraldo in custody.
According to the investigators, in March 2022, on orders from abroad, Alberto Giraldo placed smartphones in a Moscow shopping centre through which a mass mailing was carried out of ‘messages with information known to be false about the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, including about the alleged killing of civilians.’
During interrogation, Alberto Giraldo stated that he saw nothing reprehensible about the distribution of this information and believed that it contributed to the formation of an ‘alternative point of view’ about events in Ukraine.
Why do we consider Alberto Giraldo a political prisoner?
Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code on dissemination of information known to be false about the actions of the Russian army contradicts the Russian Constitution, Russia’s international obligations, and fundamental principles of law.
In particular, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: ‘Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.’ Restrictions on the exercise of these rights ‘shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.’ Similar norms are set out in Article 29 of the Russian Constitution.
The restrictions on freedom of expression introduced by Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code do not serve any of the aforementioned purposes and are in direct violation of the Russian constitution.
Article 207.3 criminalizes practically any statements about the actions of the Russian armed forces and activities of Russian state bodies abroad. In the course of an armed conflict, it is often not possible to establish the accuracy of information disseminated by various sources. Still less is it possible to establish whether or not it is known that information is false. These deficiencies determine the unlawful nature of Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code.
The timing and context of the introduction of Article 207.3 into the Russian Criminal Code – after the beginning of large-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine – allow us to assert that this article was created specifically as a means to prosecute critics of the Russian authorities and also in order to prevent the dissemination of information about war crimes. This fully applies to the prosecution of Alberto Giraldo.
Moreover, it is known that on his Facebook page Alberto Giraldo wrote that ‘in war there are no winners or losers,’ that ‘Russophobia in the West is biased,’ and that ‘Ukraine is being used as a puppet to economically weaken Russia.’ All these statements indicate that he had no intention to discredit the Russian army.
More information about the case of Alberto Giraldo and the position of the Human Rights Project are available on our Telegram channel.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the Human Rights Project ‘Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
How can you help?
You can write to Alberto Giraldo at the following address:
In Russian: 109382, Москва, ул. Верхние поля, д. 57, СИЗО-7 УФСИН России по г. Москва, Хиральдо Сарай Альберто Энрике, 1982 г. р.
In English: Alberto Enrique Giraldo Saray (born 1982), Remand Centre No. 7 of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Moscow, 57 Verkhnie Polya Street, Moscow, 109382
You can send electronic mail to him (Хиральдо Сарай Альберто Энрике, 1982 г. р.) via FSIN.Money
You can support political prisoners by making a donation to the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners via YooMoney.
Translated by Rights in Russia