This was announced by the U.S. Department of State spokesperson John Kirby, Censor.NET reports citing the authority's official website.
Kirby called the court's decision "a miscarriage of justice." "Both Ukrainians were taken hostage on Ukrainian territory, transported to and imprisoned in Russia, and had Russian citizenship imposed on them against their wills," the spokesperson said.
"They've reported abuses by Russian authorities, who also restricted their access to lawyers, family, and others while in jail for more than a year. Mr. Sentsov and Mr. Kolchenko were targeted by authorities because of their opposition to Russia's attempted annexation of Crimea," Kirby added.
"The United States stands by those who are persecuted for exercising their rights to speak freely and engage in peaceful protest. We again call upon the Russian Federation to implement the commitments it made in signing the Minsk agreements by immediately releasing Mr. Sentsov, Mr. Kolchenko, Nadia Savchenko, and all other remaining hostages," the Department of State representative said.
Russian authorities accused Sentsov and Kolchenko of creating a Crimean unit of the Right Sector party, which is banned in Russia, of arson to several parties' offices in Crimea, and of preparation of a detonation to Lenin monument. Sentsov and Kolchenko denied the accusations. Sentsov testified during the trial that he had been tortured by FSB officers to make him confess to what they had requested.
The two were detained in May 2014 in Crimea by Russian special forces, were evacuated from the occupied peninsula to Russia, and have been kept in a predetention center ever since. Two more persons, Hennadii Afanasiev and Oleksii Chirnii, were also detained within the case. They have been convicted in Russia. Russian human rights organization 'Memorial' announced Sentsov, Kolchenko, and Afanasiev political prisoners.
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