Ukraine expels Spanish journalists, Spain voices protest

Journalist organizations in Spain are outraged by the deportation of Spanish journalists from Ukraine who reported on the conflict in the Donbas, reports El Mundo.

Antonio Pampliega and Manuel Angel Sastre were deported from the country on Friday after being detained at the airport in Kyiv for almost 20 hours.

In 2015, Spanish journalists were added to the list of people who are a threat to the national security of Ukraine, which is why they were banned from entering Ukraine for a period of up to five years. After a decisive protest by the Spanish government, Kyiv removed sanctions from European journalists in May 2016.

 According to Pampliega, he provided Ukrainian border guards with a copy of the relevant order, as well as other documents including permission to work in the ATO (anti-terrorist operation) zone. 
"It turned out that the Security Service of Ukraine added us onto another list, along with other 40 names. We are regarded as a threat to national security and we are banned from entering Ukraine until 2020,” Pampliega informed.

"We were treated like criminals," Sastre said.

There wasn’t an official reaction by the Spanish government to the deportation, but members of the Spanish media regard the incident as an attack on freedom of the press.

Journalist organizations in Spain, The Platform for Information Freedom Protection and The Madrid Press Association, called on the Spanish Foreign Ministry to demand an explanation for the deportation of the journalists from Ukraine, according to Publico. The Madrid Press Association, in particular, called the actions of Kyiv, "an attempt by an authoritarian regime to introduce censorship."

Pampliega and Sastre are independent journalists, they became well-known after having spent almost 10 months in captivity by the Nusra Front in Syria and were released in May 2016. They were in Ukraine in December 2014 and covered the events "on both sides of the front line."

However, some journalistic materials could be concerning to the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) and the journalists confirmed that they wrote them. In one of his latest reports on Instagram, Antonio Pampliega wrote about the “shelling of Pervomaisk by the Ukrainian army" in 2014. And in a post dated August 24th of last year, he provides data on a unique Donbas industry, and added the following interlocutor’s quotation, citing the head of the mine named after Chelyuskintsi in the occupied part of the Donbas, writing that “Kyiv authorities know it well, so they are trying to put an end to the economy of the region through shelling. After all, destroying mines means destroying the means of earning a living for thousands of families in the region and condemning them to starvation. War is a nasty thing.”

In his article in 2014 titled "In the Depths of Donbas: Ukrainian War Floods the Famous Mines," which is where this quote is found, a response from Ukraine is missing and the only information provided is on the Ukrainian army’s attacks on the infrastructure of the Donbas.

  Spain, journalists, Donbas, deportation