Since morning, policemen and experts have been working in one of the offices of TUT.BY media company in Minsk.
An unidentified person threatened to blow off the building. According to preliminary data, the company received at least two letters.
The anonymous author demanded to stop sending some messages. Otherwise there will be an explosion in the building on Dzerzhinsky Street, they promised. TUT.BY staff reported the situation to the police.
At about 09.30 am law enforcement officers and investigators started probing into the case. Different versions are being checked; they are trying to the identify the author of the letter and define their motives.
No one has been evacuated yet; a canine team was spotted in the building.
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.
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’.
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 realized they would get no information. their pressure on him intensified, Bobryk claims.
НМ, belsat.eu, photo by Kseniya Elyashevich/TUT.BY