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Russian court rules to keep member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in custody

On February 6, a court in Oryol sentenced Danish citizen Dennis Christensen to six years behind bars

ORYOL, May 8. /TASS/. The Oryol Regional Court has dismissed an appeal by Danish citizen Dennis Christensen, found guilty of organizing the activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious community (outlawed in Russia) and ruled to keep him in custody, Christensen’s lawyer Anton Bogdanov informed TASS on Wednesday.

"We have offered alternatives, including house arrest or release on bail, but the court ruled to keep Dennis Christensen in custody," Bogdanov said.

On February 6, 2019, a court in Oryol found Danish citizen Dennis Christensen guilty of launching the activities of a Jehovah's Witnesses branch in the Russian city and sentenced him to six years behind bars. The Danish branch of Amnesty International called Christensen a prisoner of conscience and slammed the judicial process as political persecution.

Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization that supports offbeat views on the essence of the Christian faith and provides special interpretations of many commonly accepted notions.

In August 2017, the Russian Justice Ministry included the organization Jehovah’s Witnesses and its 395 local religious branches to the list of organizations outlawed in the country. The Russian Supreme Court satisfied the claim of the Justice Ministry to shut down the organization on April 20, 2017.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stated that Russia’s "harsh sentence imposed on Christensen creates a dangerous precedent", and called on the Russian government to revise the court verdict.