Russia's Navalny found guilty in libel case

NATALIYA VASILYEVA
Associated Press
Russian opposition activist and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, right, is escorted to a court by a policeman, left, from his home, where he is currently staying under house arrest in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny was found guilty in a libel case and fined US$8,400 in a court ruling that left the door open for his subsequent jailing. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny was found guilty in a libel case Tuesday and fined $8,400, a ruling that leaves the door open for his subsequent jailing.

The Babushkinsky Court on Tuesday upheld the claim of municipal deputy Alexei Lisovenko, who sued Navalny for calling him a drug addict earlier this month after Lisovenko claimed that Navalny was violating his parole.

Navalny, 37, who hit the headlines in the late 2000s as a corporate gadfly, has been under house arrest pending another trial for nearly two months, banned from receiving visitors, talking to media or writing on social media.

His lawyer insisted that the judge had not established who posted the message on Twitter since his wife and supporters also have access to his account.

Navalny, who got a third of the vote in Moscow's mayoral election last year, is one of Russia's most vocal opposition leaders. He has been hit with several criminal cases in the past months.

A court hearing on Thursday will rule whether to extend his house arrest. Tuesday's conviction could prompt prosecutors to petition to get Navalny jailed, his defense team said.