Feb 22, 10:53 AM EST

Russia's highest court has overturned the conviction of a jailed opposition activist and ordered him released


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Russia's highest court has overturned the conviction of a jailed opposition activist and ordered him released

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MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's highest court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a jailed opposition activist and ordered him released more than a year after he was sent to prison.

Ildar Dadin in December 2015 became the first person to be convicted of breaking a new law against protesters. The bill, which made it possible to press criminal charges and imprison anyone who was repeatedly caught taking part in unsanctioned protests, was seen as the Kremlin's knee-jerk reaction to counter massive anti-government rallies in Moscow in 2011 and 2012.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday annulled the 2-year sentence for Dadin and closed his case, more than a year after he was first imprisoned.

Dadin's wife, Anastasia Zotova, who was at the court on Wednesday, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that the court did not indicate how soon he could be released.

"We have no idea when he's going to be released because all communication, visits, phone calls have been banned," Zotova said.

Zotova, who said she has only been allowed a 10-minute phone call and a visit with Dadin in the past six months, said she would try to convince her husband to leave Russia once he is released.

Human rights groups have named Dadin a political prisoner who was only involved in nonviolent protests.

Last fall, Dadin said he was tortured by prison guards who carried out group beatings and threatened to rape and murder him. He later was transferred to another prison. An investigation team dispatched to the prison in northern Russia concluded that Dadin had not been beaten.

The imprisonment and harsh treatment of a man with no previous criminal record convicted for a non-violent crime looked unusual even in the current political environment, where opposition leaders are under constant pressure from the police and prosecutors.

The Prosecutor General's Office earlier Wednesday said it would conduct another investigation into Dadin's report of beatings at the prison colony.

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