Andrey Pochobut, a correspondent for the Polish newspaper GazetaWyborcza, faces a four-year prison sentence for defamation and “insulting the president” of Belarus, according to report from Index on Censorship.
Pochobut’s trial began yesterday but journalists and family members are excluded from proceedings.
Index voices serious concerns over whether Pochobut will receive a fair trial.
If found guilty, Pochobut would be the fourth journalist sent to prison on a charge of “insulting the president” if he is found guilty.
Full report on Index on Censorship at this link.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said the latest release of foreign journalists being detained in Iran and Libya “is a very positive development”, but repeated its call for the release of others.
Yesterday it was confirmed that Al Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz was released after being detained in Syria and then deported to Iran, while four journalists detained in Libya last month, including a British freelancer, were also released this week. Details of the whereabouts of a fifth journalist reported to have been detained in Libya at the same time, UK-based photographer Anton Hammerl, remain unknown.
“We are relieved that these journalists are free. It is now time for the Iranian and Libyan authorities to review the cases of dozens of journalists who remain imprisoned mainly for attempting to report on historic developments in the Middle East and North Africa,” said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.
According to the CPJ Iran, together with China, is the world’s top jailer of journalists with at least 34 in prison.
A sobering Where’s Wally style cartoon on the front of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) homepage, asking:
A reminder of the ‘Press Freedom Barometer 2009’: