MP raises case of journalist Christo Grozev refused entry to Britain ahead of Baftas

MP raises case of journalist Christo Grozev refused entry to Britain ahead of Baftas

A member of the British Parliament said she has raised the case of an investigative journalist who was refused entry to the UK after authorities deemed him to be a “public security risk”.

Alicia Kearns, who chairs the foreign affairs select committee, said that she had spoken to the government about Christo Grozev’s status, saying on Twitter: “I’ve raised with ministers – you are not the security risk.”

Mr Grozev had planned to enter the UK for the British and Film Television Awards, where his film Navalny was nominated in the best documentary category.

The film explores the story of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and events related to his 2020 poisoning, and sees Mr Grozev explain how he and fellow investigative journalist Maria Pevchikh revealed the details of the poisoning plot that indicated involvement from Russia.

But on Friday, the journalist took to Twitter to say that his family, including his two children, had been prevented from attending the ceremony by counter-terrorism police.

He said the apparent risk to him and others illustrated the “growing dangers to independent journalists around the world”.

Responding to his tweet, London’s Metropolitan Police said: “For obvious reasons, we don’t give details of security arrangements or advice on Twitter. We’re in ongoing contact with Bafta.”

Mr Grozev is a Bulgarian citizen who is a key investigator with Bellingcat, the news organisation credited with unmasking the team behind the Salisbury Novichok poisonings in 2018.

His work has also exposed a wide range of alleged Russian spy operations, including surveillance related to the poisoning of Navalny, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison over trumped-up embezzlement and contempt of court charges.

Earlier this year, warnings from intelligence circles prompted Mr Grozev to cancel a recent return to Vienna from the US, Falter magazine reported.

Authorities in Moscow have branded Bellingcat an “undesirable” organisation, banning its operations, and put Mr Grozev on the wanted list.

The Bafta ceremony is set to take place at London’s Southbank Centre on February 19.

In a statement regarding security at Sunday’s ceremony, Bafta said: “The safety of all our guests and staff at the ceremony is always our highest priority, and we have robust and appropriate security arrangements in place every year.”

Bafta also confirmed that producers Diane Becker, Shane Boris, Melanie Miller and Odessa Rae will be attending the event as nominees for Navalny.

Mr Grozev is not currently publicly listed as attending.

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