US Helsinki Commission Co-Chair calls on Minsk to release detained journalists

Hong Kong journalist on trial after probing police misconduct

US Helsinki Commission Co-Chair calls on Minsk to release detained journalists

Detentions in the case of unauthorized access to computer information continue in Belarus

Arrests and detentions of journalists working in independent media continue in Minsk. They are charged with “unauthorized access to computer information” by the state news agency BelTA. Belarusian authorities detained at least 18 journalists in the so-called “BelTA case”.

On Wednesday, Republican Congressman Chris Smith, co-chairman of the US Helsinki Commission and one of the authors of the Belarus Democracy Act, called on official Minsk to immediately release all detained journalists and stop the persecution of civil society representatives..

“Many Belarusian patriots continue to make heroic sacrifices for their country, working hard to ensure respect for human rights and representative government, opposing the worst abuses of the Lukashenka dictatorship,” said Chris Smith. “Our government should make their protection a top priority in our relations with Belarus.”.

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About 20 journalists detained in Belarus

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During searches of independent media offices in the capital, police and the Investigative Committee confiscated documents and computer hard drives. In addition, searches were carried out in five apartments belonging to journalists..

The Investigative Committee confirmed the detention of journalist Aleksey Zhukov, who previously worked for the independent publication Belarusy I Rynok, and freelancer Deutsche Welle and media expert Pavel Bykovsky. In addition, the department reported on investigative actions in relation to employees of the publications “Culture and Art”, realt.by and ITV.by.

In a commentary for Radio Liberty, Nobel Prize laureate in literature Svetlana Aleksievich noted that the Belarusian authorities are trying to destroy independent sources of information and the remnants of dissent in society.

“The first thing that comes to mind is an attempt to intimidate us all. A test is underway – we exist as a society that is capable of providing civil resistance, or we do not exist, – said Svetlana Aleksievich. – It is obvious that the government sees big problems before itself that will affect many people, and their reaction is unknown. Any totalitarian government is afraid of resistance. Since she knows that she is illegal, she is always looking for enemies, this is her way of being. “.

The Reporters Without Borders organization condemned the actions of the Belarusian authorities in relation to the country’s independent media. OSCE expressed concern about raids in apartments and editorial offices of independent news agencies and demanded the immediate release of all detainees.

In Minsk, the journalists were supported by the heads of the diplomatic missions of the United States and the European Union. On Wednesday morning, Charge d’Affaires of the United States Scott Brandon and Economic Counselor of the Embassy Christopher McCabe, Head of the EU Delegation Andrea Victorin, British Ambassador Fionna Gibb and Deputy Ambassador of Sweden Magnus Satterberg visited the editorial office of BelaPAN.

US Helsinki Commission Co-Chair calls on Minsk to release detained journalists
US Helsinki Commission Co-Chair calls on Minsk to release detained journalists

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