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General Rapporteur calls for immediate release of Belarusian journalist

Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), General Rapporteur on media freedom and the safety of journalists for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has today expressed his grave concern at the arrest and detention by the Belarusian authorities of Raman Pratasevich, co-founder of media outlet Nexta and chief editor of two Telegram channels that have covered protests against Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“By diverting an international aircraft and forcing it to land, in order to arrest the journalist, the Belarusian authorities have grossly violated existing international norms regarding air communications and exposed to risk lives of hundreds of passengers,” stated Mr Schennach.

“The government of Belarus has completely violated the basic human rights of Mr Pratasevich. This unprecedent attack on media freedom in Belarus is absolutely unacceptable,” he added.

“I call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release the journalist Raman Pratasevich. They must release as well Sofia Sapega, the journalist’s girlfriend, who was traveling with him on the same airplane,” concluded the rapporteur.