20:44 GMT29 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Harlem Desir, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, says he is closely following the situation around Tallinn's pressure on Sputnik Estonia employees and has already requested additional information about the grounds for the possible criminal prosecution against them.

    "Please be informed that I closely follow the course of this issue. On 20 December I conveyed my concern to the Estonian authorities, including in a statement from my official Twitter account ... and requested additional information on the legal foundation of possible criminal proceedings against the staff members working for Sputnik Estonia, which is not part of the European Union’s financial sanctions list. The extension of the application of individual sanctions, imposed on Mr. Dmitriy Kiselev, to Sputnik is a significant move in terms of legal ground and is posing a problem for freedom of the media," Desir said in his letter for Sputnik and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.

    Rossiya Segodnya has already said it its appeal to the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board that sanctions against the agency's head could not be implemented against Sputnik Estonia.

    The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board warned Sputnik Estonia earlier in December that its journalists could face criminal prosecution unless they severed their ties with the Moscow-based parent news agency, Rossiya Segodnya, by January 1. The Estonian authorities cited the 2014 European Union's sanctions, imposed on a range of entities and persons in light of the events in Ukraine, as a pretext for the possible legal action.

    Tags:
    media freedom, sanctions, Sputnik, Russia, Estonia, OSCE
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