About 20 European filmmakers have penned an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin demanding clarity on the fate of Crimean director Oleg Sentsov, who is being held in Moscow on charges of terrorism.
"Oleg Sentsov was arrested by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation [FSB] at his home in Simferopol on May 11 and taken to Moscow, where he is detained and awaiting trial," said the text of the letter, which was published in full by movie website screendaily.com.
In the letter addressed to State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, among others, the manifest's signatories said little was known about the condition of Sentsov.
"We urge you to ensure the safety of Oleg Sentsov; to make public the whereabouts of the detained; to have the detained charged with a recognizable offense or released; to instigate a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the apparently arbitrary detention by the FSB," the authors of the text, including British director Ken Loach and Spain's Pedro Almodovar, added in the letter.
An ethnic Russian, Sentsov stands accused by authorities of organizing a terrorist attack — a charge his supporters say is politically motivated.
Sentsov was a supporter of Ukraine's Euromaidan protesters, whose demonstrations led to the ouster of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych in February, and he also helped Ukrainian military officers who did not support Russia's annexation of Crimea to leave the Black Sea peninsula, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
"Sentsov is one many people arrested in Crimea and carted off to Moscow on trumped-up charges. I would hope that we can use his position as a public figure to draw attention to this. I urge our brave friends and colleagues in the Russian industry to speak out," British producer Mike Downey, a signatory of the letter, was quoted as saying.
If found guilty, Sentsov faces up to 10 years in prison under Russian law — the minimum term available for those convicted of terrorism-related charges.