Written by Sylwia Presley originally published on Global Voices Online
as Imprisonment of blogger and activist Andrzej Poczobut in Belarus
Polish correspondent, Andrzej Poczobut, for the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, has been arrested for slander of Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus.
In addition to being a correspondent, Poczobut was an activist-blogger, respected by the people of Belarus for his brave delivery of facts to the mainstream media.
Earlier this year, on the 26th of January, Andrzej Poczobut posted a video blog explaining his two previous arrests conducted by the KGB [note: The sectret police in Belarus are still called KGB] – first an informal arrest and hearing that included verbal and physical insults and a second arrest initiated by a home search, confiscation of the blogger’s laptop followed by arrest, a night in prison, court hearing and a trial with an advocate asked to represent the blogger.
During that trial Poczobut’s input was not taken into consideration, the court made a note of witness accounts of two policemen instead. The court trial in January resulted in a fine.
On the 28th of March, Poczobut posted on his blog an explanation of accusations in which he is referring to eight articles he wrote for Gazeta Wyborcza, in addition to a personal blog and a guest post on another blog, as a source of president Lukashenko’s claimed image damage. Those accusations resulted in his arrest on the 6th of April.
Since his arrest, Poczobut posted four blog posts – letters from prison – updating his readers on reality of his current situation, like in this short update:
“One of the most pleasant experiences of my life in prison is a walk. Seven steps to one side and you stop at the wall, turn and seven steps in the other direction. It would seem that it can be pleasant, right? […] That means – you see the sky and there is fresh air. In prison, you start to appreciate these simple and seemingly public things.”
After series of appeals Poczobut remains in prison and can be sentenced for up to four years in prison.
Journalists of Gazeta Wyborcza are hosting a dedicated webpage for Poczobut counting the days of his imprisonment and containing their official appeal:
We demand that Mr. Poczobut be freed immediately and all charges against him dropped. We protest against the harassment and false accusations against a journalist who performed his duties in an honest manner.