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Belarus: Leading news site blocked and journalists interrogated

TUT.by, relied on by more than 40% of Belarusian internet users, taken down and editors interrogated after office and house raids

Move follows jailing of TUT.by reporter in March

‘It is a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom in Belarus’ - Aisha Jung

Reacting to reports that Belarus’ Ministry of Information has blocked a leading Belarusian news site TUT.by and raided its offices and interrogated editors at the outlet, Aisha Jung, Senior Campaigner on Belarus at Amnesty International, said.

“This is a cowardly step taken by a Government which fears truth and resorts to brutal measures to suppress human rights.

“It is a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom in Belarus, and leaves a gaping wound in the country’s access to independent sources of information.

“The scope of this attack cannot be underestimated since over 40% of Belarusian internet users refer to TUT.by for news, forums and other services. 

“The Government must end its suffocating crackdown on independent voices and immediately reverse the blocking of TUT.by.”

Move follows jailing of TUT.by reporter

The Belarusian government blocked access to TUT.by citing “numerous facts of violations of the Law on Mass Media” and, specifically, the publication of materials coming from the BYSOL foundation, an unregistered fundraising initiative in support of victims of political repression in Belarus. Legislation in Belarus prohibits the media from disseminating materials on behalf of unregistered organisations. 

Last October, TUT.by’s media credentials were revoked following its coverage of the peaceful protests which had erupted across the country after the widely-disputed presidential election. This March, TUT.by reporter Katsyaryna Barysevich was sentenced to six months in prison on trumped-up charges for uncovering the falsification of official reports into the killing of peaceful protester Raman Bandarenka in November.

 

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