Two journalists have been sentenced to two years in prison in Belarus for reporting on a demonstration against President Lukashenko. For livestreaming the demonstration, they were accused of helping to organize the protest.
In today’s verdict, the women hugged each other in their cage in court and made the V sign to those present. Their lawyer has said they will appeal against the verdict.
“This is a political verdict, intended to deter journalists from reporting on the important developments in the country,” responded the Belarusian media union. “This amounts to a professional ban.”
The two 27 and 23-year-old women from Belarus were arrested in November when they filmed a protest for Polish channel Belsat after the death of an anti-Lukashenko demonstrator a few days earlier. The 31-year-old man was said to have died after being assaulted by the police, something the government denies.
The country has been unsettled since President Lukashenko was re-elected in controversial elections in August. It is reported that 33,000 people have since been arrested, including hundreds of reporters. Charges have been filed against about ten journalists.
Polish President Duda has asked Belarus for amnesty for those arrested, saying the country should respect civil rights and freedom of expression.