May 23, 2019 / 10:05 AM / a month ago

Dane jailed by Russia in Jehovah's Witnesses crackdown loses appeal - group's spokesman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Danish adherent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses jailed for six years in Russia after being found guilty of organising a banned extremist group lost his court appeal on Thursday, a spokesman for the group said.

Armed police detained Dennis Christensen, a builder, in May 2017 at a prayer meeting in Oryol, some 200 miles (320 km) south of Moscow after a court in the region outlawed the local Jehovah’s Witnesses a year earlier.

A Russian court in February jailed him for six years in a case critics condemn as crushing religious freedom.

On Thursday, a court in Oryol ruled on his appeal.

“The three-judge panel denied the appeal and upheld the six-year sentence he received in February,” Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Jarrod Lopes said in a statement.

Lopes said 197 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia were facing criminal charges, and that 28 men and women among them were being held in pretrial detention and 24 were under house arrest.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Tom Balmforth

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