The employees of the Belarusian Investigative Committee have come to the flat of media expert Paulyuk Bykouski and his wife, journalist Volha Bykouskaya, at about 8.40am.
According to preliminary information, they have a search warrant.
The visit is related to Tuesday’s raiding the offices of TUT.BY media company and news agency BelaPAN. As of Wednesday morning, the search at TUT.BY is still in progress.
On August 7, an unprecedented wave of media workers’ arrests started in Belarus.
After Iryna Akulovich, Head of state-controlled 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 and BelaPAN editors Tatsyana Karavyankova and Andrey Serada were also detained. Later Bobryk, Serada and Babayed were released, but the rest will reportedly have to spend three days (72 hours) behind bars.
“We have been informed about searches and arrests in a number of most prominent Belarusian media. This information is of great concern for the Council of Europe. Moreover, some of those concerned are our long-standing partners well known as high-level professionals. Legislation must be respected but investigations do not always require arrests which should be used as an ultimate tool. We therefore call on the Belarusian investigative authorities to ensure rapid and transparent investigation. We also call to liberate all the arrested journalists. Freedom of media is one of the most important human rights in a democratic society. It should be thoroughly respected everywhere in Europe,” Daniel Holtgen, Spokesperson for the Secretary General of Council of Europe, said in his statement.