06:17 GMT28 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Sputnik Lithuania senior editor Marat Kasem said on Tuesday that he would appeal the five-year entry ban after the Baltic nation deported him for allegedly being a national security risk.

    "I’ve consulted the legal department of the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency [which includes Sputnik]. We will make an announcement in the next few days," Kasem said.

    He said he would fight the ban because Lithuania would otherwise see his inaction as tacit endorsement of its press freedom violations.

    "This should not be left without an answer. It has been going on for months, years. You cannot close eyes to it. Silence is a sign of approval. It’s impossible to agree with this absurd [decision]," he said.

    Kasem has been staying in Riga since his detention at the Vilnius airport and deportation earlier in the day. He said his Latvian nationality allowed him to travel freely within the EU borderless zone.

    Rossiya Segodnya editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan has said that Russian media in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been severely disadvantaged. Russia’s mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has called Kasem’s expulsion a grave violation of press freedom.

    Simonyan suggested on Tuesday that Lithuanian intelligence might have leaked a journalist’s personal details to a Ukrainian website that routinely runs a list of Ukraine’s "enemies."

    Sputnik Lithuania chief editor Marat Kasem was added to the Mirotvorets list shortly after he was deported from Lithuania for being a national security risk. He said Lithuania acted as Ukraine’s EU mentor.

    "It has long been clear that Mirotvorets is working closely with Ukrainian intelligence agencies. It is also evident that it is working with Lithuanian intelligence agencies too," Simonyan said.

    The media watchdog at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has for years called on Ukraine to stop the Mirotvorets website from publishing personal data of local and foreign journalists, saying it put their lives at risk.


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