4 Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to prison in Russia

December 19, 2022 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) — Officials of the Jehovah’s Witnesses say four Russian members of the religious denomination have been sentenced to prison terms ranging up to seven years.

Russia banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 and designated the religion an extremist organization. More than 110 adherents are now in prison in Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Jarrod Lopes said in a statement.

He said the latest convictions were handed down in a court in the city of Birobidzhan in Russia’s far East, four years after they were arrested in home raids.

“It’s unthinkable that peaceful Christian men ... would be accused of extremist activity and given harsh, lengthy prison sentences usually reserved for violent criminals,” Lopes said.