Belarus: Journalist sentenced to eight years in prison on 'absurd and baseless treason charges'

Katsyaryna Andreeva accused of state treason

Journalist handed a new prison term on top of one she was already serving on protest charges

Reacting to news that a court in Belarus sentenced Belsat TV journalist Katsyaryna Andreeva to eight years in prison on bogus “state treason” charges, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said: 

“Alexander Lukashenko’s repressive apparatus continues to try to grind brave journalists and activists to dust. Every day brings a new terrible and unjust criminal verdict.

“Today, Katsyaryna Andreeva, who is already serving an unfair two-year prison sentence, has been given an additional eight years in prison in a politically motivated sham trial. She is being subjected to absurd and baseless treason charges solely for her fearless work as a journalist. 

“Katsyaryna and all other critics of the Belarusian authorities detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression must be immediately and unconditionally released and all charges against them must be dropped.” 

Sentencing

On 13 July 2022, the Homel Regional court in Belarus, after a week-long deliberation, sentenced Belsat TV journalist Katsyaryna Andreeva to eight years in prison. She was accused of “state treason” with no further details disclosed or evidence presented to substantiate the allegation. The Belarusian authorities routinely restrict all information about criminal proceedings against their critics under threat of criminal prosecution for any disclosure. 

On 18 February 2021, a court in Minsk found Andreeva and her colleague Daria Chultsava guilty in a separate case on charges of “organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating public order, or active participation in them” (Article 342(1) of the Belarusian Criminal Code). The accusations against them stemmed from livestreaming a peaceful protest on 15 November 2020. Both journalists were sentenced then to two years in prison, their sentences expiring in September 2022. Andreeva would be required to serve the new prison sentence from then on.  

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