BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Two journalists for a Boston-based news organization were detained in Russia for several hours Thursday while teaching a news reporting workshop.

Joe Bergantino and Randy Covington were taken to a Russian court on Thursday after authorities detained them in Saint Petersburg, according to the New England Center For Investigative Reporting. Bergantino co-founded NECIR and was conducting the Boston University-based center’s  journalism workshops in Russia.

The center said on Twitter that it was told by Bergantino that he can return to the United States on Saturday.

Beth Daley, a reporter with NECIR, told WBZ NewsRadio1030 that the reporters have since been released, but are not allowed to continue teaching.

“After being taken to district court, a judge gave him a verbal warning, told him they could no longer teach the workshop, but said they were free to leave the country,” Daley said.

Daley told the New England First Amendment Coalition that Bergantino and Covington were charged with “teaching an educational workshop illegally because they were using the wrong visas.”

Daley says they refused to sign a document that said they were in the country illegally. The journalists were using visas recommended by the State Department, according to NECIR.

Bergantino was a 22-year WBZ-TV veteran and a longtime I-Team reporter. Covington is a journalism instructor at University of South Carolina and worked as a news manager at the station from 1980-1984.

Randy Covington (University of South Carolina photo)

Randy Covington (Photo credit University of South Carolina)

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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