Freedom House Blasts Magnitsky Conviction | Freedom House

Freedom House Blasts Magnitsky Conviction

Washington

Freedom House strongly denounces the outrageous verdict of a Moscow court convicting deceased lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on spurious charges of tax evasion. The case against Magnitsky is the first posthumous trial against a defendant in Russia; Magnitsky’s former client, William Browder, head of Hermitage Capital, was also found guilty.

In November 2009, Magnitsky died in prison after being beaten and denied critical medical treatment while awaiting trial on trumped-up charges of tax evasion. He was detained after exposing a $230 million fraud against Russian taxpayers.  A working group in the Presidential Human Rights Council corroborated allegations that Magnitsky was denied medical treatment and tortured.  The investigation into his murder was closed without any person being held accountable for his death, officials involved in the matter were promoted and awarded, and President Vladimir Putin announced that the cause of Magnitsky’s death in detention was heart failure.

“The Putin regime has sunk to new lows today by securing the posthumous conviction of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky for tax evasion and also the conviction against Browder,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House.  “It wasn’t enough that Magnitsky was killed in prison and nobody has been held accountable for his murder.  The authorities had to convict him after he was dead on absurd charges in violation of Russia’s own laws since the family opposed a posthumous trial and such proceedings require the family’s consent.  The whole situation runs afoul of simple human decency.”

In the absence of any justice in Russia for Magnitsky’s murder, the U.S. Congress passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act last December to deny Russian government officials involved in his death use of U.S. financial institutions and entry into the United States. In response, the Russian Duma passed a law forbidding adoption of Russian orphans by citizens in the U.S., holding hostage hundreds of Russian children who were about to be adopted by Americans.

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House's annual global survey of political rights and civil liberties, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2013 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.

To learn more about Russia, visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: Russia

Nations in Transit 2013: Russia

Freedom of the Press 2013: Russia

Freedom on the Net 2012: Russia

Honoring the Memory of Sergei Magnitsky

Freedom House Applauds U.S. Senate’s Passage of the Magnitsky Act

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.