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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baltimore Reporter Has 2nd Day of Questioning

An American newspaper correspondent was interrogated by security officials for over four hours Thursday for writing an article about Russia's chemical weapons program, but refused to sign a statement that would have signaled his cooperation.


Will Englund, correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, appeared for questioning at Lefortovo, the KGB prison, for the second day in a row, to answer questions about a story he wrote in September about Vil Mirzayanov, the scientist who faces criminal charges for revealing state secrets.


Englund had refused to be questioned Wednesday when an investigator turned down his request to have an American lawyer and U. S. Embassy representative present.


The investigator, Viktor Shkarin, denied the request again Thursday, but Englund and his translator went ahead with the questioning. Security officials had warned that if Englund did not appear, he would be detained.


"As much as I resent their heavy-handed threats, I still felt that further confrontation would not lead anywhere", Englund said Thursday evening. "My job here is not to do battle with the KGB, but to be a working, effective journalist".


During the four-hour interview, Englund was subjected to "strong psychological pressure" but refused to provide any information that had not been already published in his article, his translator, Andrei Mironov, said.


He refused to tell the investigator how he had met Mirzayanov or who had set up an interview with the scientist. Russia's mass media law protects journalists from revealing their sources, but the law, which has been in effect for just over a year, is routinely ignored by the authorities.


The Foreign Correspondents Association sent a letter to Security Minister Viktor Barannikov protesting Englund's treatment.


"These forms of intimidation call to mind the worst days of the Cold War and are unworthy of Russia in this period of unprecedented international cooperation", it read in part.


The incident was believed to be the first such interrogation of an American journalist in Russia since Nicholas Daniloff of U. S. News and World Report was arrested by the KGB on espionage charges in 1986.