January 11, 2024

11.01.2024 – SEEMO Condemns Ongoing Detention and Charges Against Belarusian Blogger and Journalist

Belarusian journalist and blogger Ales Sabaleuski (Алесь Сабалеўскі), known for his contributions to various local publications, remains in extended detention despite having served a second term of administrative detention, according to the Mayday Team Telegram channel. The channel, managed by journalists and human rights activists based in Mogilev (Магілёў), Belarus, reported this on 8 January 2024. Same information was distributed also over independent Belarusian Association of Journalists ( @baj_by )

The ordeal began on 12 December 2023, when Sabaleuski, was arrested and subsequently sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention the following day on undisclosed charges. During his stay in jail, additional charges were levied against him, allegedly accusing him of distributing ‘extremist’ content.

Consequently, his detention was extended beyond the initially anticipated release date of 6 January 2024. However, Sabaleuski’s release did not materialize as expected, prompting speculation that he might have been transferred to a pre-trial detention center. The specifics of the current charges remain unclear, requiring further clarification.

Allegedly Sabaleuski’s recent arrest is part of a series of law enforcement actions against him, including a search in January 2021 and the eventual return of seized office equipment in October 2022. The broader context includes a crackdown on Mahiliou.Media and 6TV Bielarus (www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ1F3NLYBesNInI_uEGCPKg), deemed extremist formations, raising significant concerns about the state of press freedom in Belarus.

Some of his general videos are visible on his youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@sobsatby/about

Media freedom and journalist freedom in Belarus face challenges, marked by a concerning pattern of crackdowns and restrictions. The authoritarian regime led by President Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Ryhoravich Lukashenka) has consistently targeted independent journalists, bloggers, and media outlets critical of the government. These actions include arbitrary arrests, administrative detentions, and the labeling of media organizations as “extremist formations.”

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the continued detention and additional charges against Belarusian blogger Ales Sabaleuski. The authoritarian measures taken by the regime, including arbitrary arrests and accusations of distributing “extremist materials,” illustrate a blatant violation of press freedom. SEEMO urges the Belarusian authorities to respect journalistic rights, release Sabaleuski, and cease the targeted suppression of independent media. Such actions not only undermine freedom of expression but also perpetuate an atmosphere of intimidation, jeopardizing the essential role of journalists in fostering an informed society. SEEMO calls for international attention to address these violations and defend the rights of journalists in Belarus.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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