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Imprisonment of blogger and activist Andrzej Poczobut in Belarus

Gazeta Wyborcza's dedicated website

On 6th of  April Andrzej Poczobut, Polish correspondent of Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza based in Belarus and activist blogger respected by Belarusan community for his brave delivery of facts to mainstream media,  has been arrested under two sections of Belarusan law – for insulting and slander of Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus.

Earlier on this year, on the 26th of January Poczobut has posted a video update explaining his two arrests conducted by KGB – first informal one – including hearing, verbal and physical insults and a second one initiated by home search and confiscation of bloggers's laptop followed by arrest, 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, 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 has posted on his blog explanation of accusations in which he is referring to  his 8 articles posted on Gazeta Wyborcza, one blog post on his personal blog and one blog post posted as 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.

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