>> Russian arms police scaled the gates to get to the Jehovah's Witness compound where they arrested Danish national, Dennis Christensen. He was tried for extremism in mid-January in Oryol, south of Moscow, and he's now awaiting the verdict. The trial is seen as a litmus test for religious freedom in Russia.
Even in the courtroom, Christensen said he didn't regret moving there.>> No, I have never regretted that. I am very happy that I took that decision. I'm proud of living in Russia. I love my Russian friends and the Russian people. I have never regretted that.>> Okay.>> Thank you for coming.
>> Thank you very much.>> But Christensen told Reuters this week, it was like living in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, and that history was repeating itself. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, champions the Orthodox Church. And Russia has pushed harder to drive out the so-called enemy within since it's annexed Crimea and fell out with the West.
Cast as a dangerous foreign sect, the US-based Jehovah's Witnesses have been under pressure for years. The Constitution says one thing, that we have full rights to freely gather and freely practice our religion, but, in actuality, it's not the case. In 2017, the Supreme Court ordered the Jehovah's Witnesses to disband, calling it an extremist organization.
This is the first trial, but more than 100 criminal cases have been opened. Christensen has spent the last 20 months in a cell. If convicted, he could serve up to a decade in jail.