France Refuses to Comment on Asylum Status of Alleged Russian Prison Torture Whistleblower

The French Foreign Ministry did not comment on media reports that Belarusian national Sergei Savelyev, who allegedly leaked footage of torture in Russian prisons, has requested political asylum in France.

"We have no comments on the matter," a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at a briefing in response to a request from Sputnik to confirm the information.

On Monday, Agence France-Presse reported that Savelyev told them in a conversation that he had applied for political asylum in France. However, the agency failed to provide tangible evidence that Savelyev was indeed the one responsible for gathering the video evidence and handing it over for publication. The 31 year old was simply referred to as a man "behind a video leak."

Savelyev, a former inmate at a Russian prison serving a sentence for drug trafficking, arrived in France via Turkey and Tunisia, and has been waiting in the area for asylum seekers at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris since Friday, AFP said.

Savelyev has allegedly smuggled footage showing sexual assault and torture of convicts in a Russian prison. Several videos were later uploaded on YouTube and a report was published by a Russian rights group, which identified the place as the hospital wing of a prison in Russia's Saratov region. The publication prompted an official probe and the firing of several officials.

The Kremlin said it keeps updated on the issue and if the authenticity of the videos is confirmed, it will launch a "serious investigation." Russian public advocates have announced that they will discuss new legislation on prison torture in November.