Russian Blogger Arrested for Spying Seeks Asylum in Albania

Svetlana Timofeeva at e hearing in the Appeals Court of Durres, Albania. Photo: Vladimir Karaj/BIRN

Timofeeva is currently in jail awaiting trial in Albania, charged by a local prosecutor with espionage after she was arrested along with another Russian and a Ukrainian citizen near a former military factory in Gramsh in southern Albania.

Known on social media as Lana Sator, she denies being a spy and says her misadventure in Gramsh was part of her work exploring abandoned Cold War-era buildings. She face similar charges in Russia, which has asked Albania to extradict her.

Albania's Ministry of Justice previously granted a go-ahead for the extradiction. But the case is still being discussed in courts.

In her request for asylum, the 33-year-old says the Russian authorities want to punish her for her stance against the war. She underlines her status in a Instagram post of 24 February 2022, the day that Russia invaded Ukraine.

She then wrote: "This is not an operation for liberation, this is the war of one man against our brothers and a crime against our people."

A few days later, she commented: "It is more and more difficult to believe what is going on. The war is not being called war, the dead are not shown, the deaths are being hidden."

Her defence lawyer underlined in the request that there are strong reasons to believe that Timofeeva could face "cruel inhumane treatement" if she is extradicted to Russia.

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