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  • BelTA case: Independent news agency employees interrogated en masse

    BelaPAN journalists have been summoned by the Belarusian Investigative Committee over the so-called BelTA copyright infringement case.

    On Sep­tem­ber 27, Dzmit­ry Navazhy­lau and Raman Salikau are to meet with the inves­ti­ga­tors as wit­ness­es, Tat­syana Kar­avyanko­va – as a sus­pect.

    On Sep­tem­ber 28, Bela­PAN chief edi­tor Iry­na Leushy­na will have to appear for ques­tion­ing, the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists (BAJ) reports.

    Over the past week, Syarhei Kar­ale­vich, Andrey Alyak­san­drau and Andrey Ser­a­da, who are also the jour­nal­ists at the only inde­pen­dent news agency in Belarus, have also been inter­ro­gat­ed as wit­ness­es.

    On August 7, an unprece­dent­ed wave of media work­ers’ arrests start­ed in Belarus.

    After Iry­na Akulovich, Direc­tor of the state-run news agency BelTA, had report­ed ‘ille­gal access to their pre­mi­um con­tent’, the Belaru­sian Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee ini­ti­at­ed a crim­i­nal case under the arti­cle ‘unau­tho­rized access to com­put­er infor­ma­tion, made out of per­son­al inter­est, which caused sig­nif­i­cant harm’. Accord­ing to the author­i­ties’ ver­sion, some employ­ees of the above-men­tioned media out­lets have used anoth­er person’s pass­word and got infor­ma­tion owned by the Lukashen­ka mouth­piece over the past two years.

    Tut.by jour­nal­ists Hali­na Ulasik, Mary­na Zolata­va, Han­na Kalty­hi­na, Ulyana Babayed, Dzmit­ry Bobryk, Han­na Yer­ma­chonak, Bela­PAN edi­tors Tat­syana Kar­avyanko­va, Iry­na Leushy­na and Andrey Ser­a­da, Deutsche Welle cor­re­spon­dent Paulyuk Byk­ous­ki and the Belaru­sians and Mar­ket jour­nal­ist Alyak­sei Zhukau were detained. Lat­er Bobryk, Ser­a­da and Babayed were released. As part of the case, four jour­nal­ists of the prop­er­ty por­tal realt.by were inter­ro­gat­ed.

    A few days lat­er, all the jour­nal­ists were released from cus­tody, but they are still under gag order. All the sus­pects in the BelTA case are banned from leav­ing the coun­try.

    As report­ed ear­li­er, Dzmit­ry Bobryk wrote that after a three-hour inter­ro­ga­tion in the Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee on August 7, he signed a coop­er­a­tion agree­ment. Accord­ing to him, there were direct threats to him and his rel­a­tives. How­ev­er, after law enforcers

    The Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists called the sit­u­a­tion a ‘fla­grant vio­la­tion of free­dom of expres­sion and media free­dom’. Accord­ing to the BAJ, the actions of law enforce­ment agen­cies were ‘exces­sive’.


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