US urges Russia to release political, religious prisoners

US urges Russia to release political, religious prisoners

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration says it's "deeply concerned" by a growing number of political and religious prisoners held by Russia.

The State Department says the number exceeds 150 people. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the U.S. wants Russia to release them immediately and stop using its legal system to suppress dissent and peaceful religious practice.

She says Russians deserve equal legal treatment and "the ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution."

The United States is calling specific attention to the case of four Ukrainians on hunger strike, including filmmaker and dissident Oleg Sentsov. He's serving a 20-year term on terrorism charges.

The U.S. is also highlighting the cases of a Chechen rights activist, a Jehovah's Witness, Church of Scientology leaders and Muslim followers of a late Turkish theologian.

Updated : 2021-02-26 01:35 GMT+08:00