(New York, NY) — A reopened criminal case charging Roman Anin is a highly concerning threat to free expression and to journalists in Russia, PEN America said today. Over the course of his career, Anin has repeatedly made use of leaked documents to expose and investigate those working in the Kremlin. The threatening tactics used against Anin this weekend are meant to dissuade journalists from future reporting on Russian government corruption.

On Friday, April 9, FSB investigators raided Anin’s apartment in Moscow, where they seized telephones, memory sticks, documents, and other assorted electronic devices. Anin was taken in for questioning after the search, but refused to provide testimony. On Monday, April 12, Anin was again summoned to the police station for interrogation.

Anin has led crucial investigations into Russian corruption and is the founder of iStories, the Russian branch of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). In 2016, Anin reported for Novaya Gazeta on former deputy prime minister and current oil magnate Igor Sechin. The report associated Sechin with St. Princess Olga, one of the world’s most expensive yachts, valued at nearly $200 million. Sechin later sued the newspaper for defamation and won. That year, Sechin’s now-former wife opened a criminal case against Anin and his colleagues, but it was soon closed without reaching a verdict.

Anin and his lawyer were recently made aware that the case was reopened on March 24, two weeks after Anin published a new investigation about Sergei Korolev. According to the article on iSearch, Korolev, a deputy director of the FSB, is well-connected among high-profile Russian criminals and organized crime groups. This time, the reopened case is against iStories, Anin’s project. Anin has not yet been listed as a suspect, but the alleged violation of the “inviolability of private life” is a charge that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

“Despite the allegations, this case is not really about private life,” said Polina Sadovskaya, director of Eurasia programs at PEN America. “This case is about Roman Anin’s groundbreaking investigations into corruption and organized crime in Russia. That the criminal case was reopened shortly after the publication of a new article is no coincidence, and harassing Anin with interrogations and raids is part of a larger push to punish and prevent journalists whose reporting exposes the truth about these issues. The Putin regime must cease its persistent retaliation against journalists who are simply doing their jobs. Journalism is no crime; we will continue to monitor Anin’s case, and call for an end to the campaign of harassment against him.”