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Russian reporter asks asylum in Israel

TEL AVIV, Israel, July 25 (UPI) -- A corruption-fighting Russian journalist is seeking political asylum in Israel, saying his life is in danger at home.

Sergei Kuznetsov, who has been staying in Israel for a month, went to Ben Gurion International Airport Sunday and will stay there "until a solution is found for me," he told Ynetnews.

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Kuznetsov, who works at Svoboda Radio in Yekaterinburg, said he was forced to flee after being threatened for exposing corruption in the justice system.

"These exposes, alongside my political activity, have drawn the attention of senior officials who have ganged up on me," he said. He asserted that authorities sent thugs "to stage a common crime and get rid of me."

Avi Aptekman, Kuznetsov's Israeli attorney, said the reporter had been attacked by Yekaterinburg police officers and gangsters alike.

Kuznetsov came to Israel, via Turkey, in June as a tourist. While in Turkey he tried to fly to Britain, but was denied a visa. On Saturday, he tried to buy a ticket to London, but was refused a seat when he told the airline he was seeking asylum.

Israel's Population and Immigration Authority said: "It is strange that an individual seeking asylum in Israel tries to leave the country mere days after the request."

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