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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Critical of Russia's Pursuit of Gusinsky

WASHINGTON — The United States said the Russian government's pursuit of media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, arrested in Spain on Tuesday, posed a threat to the independence of the Russian media.

Spanish police arrested Gusinsky shortly after midnight at his residence in the luxury beach resort of Sotogrande under an Interpol warrant at the request of the Russian authorities.

Gusinsky, 48, left Russia nearly six months ago after previous charges of embezzlement were dropped.

A State Department official, who asked not to be named, recalled that the United States had criticized the previous attempts to prosecute the businessman, who created independent media outlets and championed press and democratic freedom.

"As we have said before, the Russian government's aggressive pursuit of Mr. Gusinsky has appeared part of an effort to use the legal system to harass and intimidate him.

"The case against Mr. Gusinsky and other instances of official pressure against journalists and the press pose a threat to media independence in Russia — a key element of Russia's ongoing transition," the official said.

The United States is following the Gusinsky case both in Washington and through its embassy in Spain, the official added.