Arrested journalist Andrey Alyaksandrau was charged with high treason (Article 356-1 of the Criminal Code), news agency BelaPAN reports with reference to his defence lawyer Anton Hashynski.
The Belarusian authorities believe that Alyaksandrau was involved in ‘betraying state secrets of the Republic of Belarus to a foreign state, international or foreign organisation, or their representatives’. If found guilty under this article, the defendant may face up to 15 years of imprisonment.
According to the lawyer, Alyaksandrau was shocked at the accusation brought against him; the arrestee refuses to admit his guilt.
Andrey Alyaksandrau and his girlfriend Iryna Zlobina were arrested on January 12 as suspects in a criminal case initiated under Article 342-2 (‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, financing or other support of such activity’).
The couple ‘financed the protest actions that took part in the mass riots, including by paying fines and receipts for detention in isolation wards’, the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs claimed. According to them, Alyaksandrau and Zlobina paid more than 250 fines imposed on the detainees in ‘protest’ cases; they got the lists and funds from the solidarity foundation BY_Help.
On the back of the arrest, the Belarusian human rights community assessed the persecution of Alyaksandrau and Zlobina as ‘politically motivated and aimed at stopping their activities to help the victims of political repressions’ and recognised them as political prisoners.
In late March, it became known that the prison authorities placed Andrey Alyaksandrau and Iryna Zlobina on the preventive register as ‘persons prone to extremist and destructive actions’. Jailed Belsat TV journalists Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Darya Chultsova, politician Pavel Sevyarynets found themselves in the same situation.