Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva detained in Russia

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A Russian-American journalist working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been detained in Russia and charged with failing to register as a foreign agent, her employer and a journalist watchdog group said Wednesday.

Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor with the US Congress-funded outlet’s Tatar-Bashkir service, “needs to be released so she can return to her family immediately,” RFE/RL acting president Jeffrey Gedmin said in a statement.

She is the second US journalist to be held by Russia in recent months. Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has been detained since March, accused of spying.

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Kurmasheva lives in Prague, Czech Republic, but entered Russia on May 20 for a family emergency, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.

She was temporarily detained at the Kazan airport on June 2 before her return flight, where both her US and Russian passports were confiscated and she was fined for failing to register her American passport with Russian authorities, according to RFE/RFL.

She was awaiting the return of her passports when the new charge was announced, the CPJ said, adding that if found guilty she faces up to five years in jail.

The organization said it was “deeply concerned” by the charges.

Russian authorities must “release her immediately and drop all charges against her,” Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said.

“Journalism is not a crime and Kurmasheva’s detention is yet more proof that Russia is determined to stifle independent reporting.”

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