FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2015 file photo, Oleg Sentsov stands behind bars as his verdict is read at a court in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Sentsov, a prominent Ukrainian filmmaker, was convicted of conspiring to commit terror attacks and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Margaret Atwood, Stephen Sondheim and Patrick Stewart are among dozens of artists and journalists calling for the release of Sentsov, a critic of Russia's annexation of Crimea. (AP Photo, File)

Dozens of artists call for Ukrainian dissident's release

June 04, 2018 - 2:43 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Margaret Atwood, Stephen Sondheim and Patrick Stewart are among dozens of artists and journalists calling for the release of Ukrainian filmmaker and dissident Oleg Sentsov.

Sentsov, a critic of Russia's annexation of Crimea, is serving a 20-year term on terrorism charges. Sentsov, 41, has been on a hunger strike for three weeks, demanding the release of 64 Ukrainian political prisoners. He is not calling for his own release.

In a letter released Monday through PEN America, the artists called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to free Sentsov. They wrote that the upcoming World Cup games in Russia would heighten scrutiny of the country's human rights abuses. Freeing Sentsov would make a "powerful statement," they wrote.

Others signing the letter include Christiane Amanpour, John Green and Jonathan Franzen.

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