Russia says it will probe Jehovah's Witnesses torture claim

An official of Russia's main criminal investigative body says it is probing allegations that its officers tortured members of the banned Jehovah's Witnesses.

The religious denomination says seven of its adherents were beaten, given electrical shocks and suffocated during interrogation this month at the Investigative Committee office in the city of Surgut. Russia banned the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2017, declaring the group an extremist organization.

The committee initially denied the torture claim. But the Interfax news agency on Friday cited regional committee official Oleg Menshikh as saying it had decided to probe the claim "given the agitation that has arisen after publication of this information in the media."

The torture claim came about a week after a Russian court sentenced a Danish Jehovah's Witness to six years in prison.