MINSK: Belarus on Wednesday detained at least six more journalists in Minsk including a freelance correspondent for Deutsche Welle in an ongoing crackdown on independent media, ostensibly over unauthorised access to a state news agency.
The ex-Soviet country led by strongman Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday had detained at least four journalists from two popular news sites, accusing them of "unauthorised access to computer information for reasons of personal gain."
The Council of Europe and Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday expressed concern at the detentions, while the Belarusian foreign ministry said they had "nothing to do with issues of press freedom."
Belarus’s Investigative Committee said on Wednesday it had detained Paulyuk Bykowski, a Belarusian journalist who works for Deutsche Welle, Germany’s public international broadcaster, after raiding his home.
Bykowksi’s wife Volha Bykowskaja told Deutsche Welle that investigators seized all their computers and devices and bank cards. The Investigative Committee also said it had detained journalist Alexei Zhukov from Belarusians and the Market business weekly.
Earlier on Wednesday the editor-in-chief of Realt.by property news website Uladizlau Kuletski told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that investigators were raiding its offices and seizing computers and had detained him and three other journalists. State news agency BelTA has accused the journalists of failing to pay subscription fees, with officials saying its "business reputation was harmed."
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