Lukashenka-run news agency not to aid in dropping charges against journos

State-owned news agency BelTA has no intention to withdraw their request to make a probe into the legality of access to its chargeable information.

Tell The Truth civil campaign has received BelTA Director Iryna Akulovich’s letter of reply to the public appeal, BelaPAN reports. About 700 persons signed it on web platform asking Ms Akulovich to withdraw her complaint.

In accordance with the Criminal Code, such measure does not lead to the termination of a criminal case, the official stressed.

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

After Iryna Akulovich 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. 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 later released. As part of the case, four journalists of the property portal 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.

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’.