May 24, 2024

24.05.2024 – Serbian Authorities Urged to Release Belarusian Journalist Andrey Gnyot

Belarusian journalist and pro-democracy activist Andrey Gnyot (Андрей Гнёт) has been detained in Serbia since 30 October 2023, following an Interpol arrest warrant issued by Belarusian authorities on charges of tax evasion. Human rights organizations and media freedom advocates are calling for his immediate release, citing the politically motivated nature of the charges and severe health deterioration while in custody.

Gnyot was arrested at airport Belgrade upon his arrival in Serbia based on a 21 September 2023, Interpol warrant. Since his detention in a central prison in Belgrade, Serbia his health has significantly worsened. In a letter dated 11 May 2024, Gnyot reported partial paralysis of his left foot and inadequate medical treatment.

Belarusian authorities have accused Gnyot of failing to pay approximately 300,000 EUR (1065327.75 BYN) in taxes between 2012 and 2018. However, his defense argues that the charges are politically motivated. Gnyot is a prominent filmmaker and journalist who has collaborated with independent news outlets, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty ( He is also a co-founder of SOS BY, an independent association of Belarusian athletes that influenced the cancellation of the 2021 World Ice Hockey Championship in Belarus. The Belarusian government has since labeled SOS BY an extremist group, a designation used to persecute its members.

If extradited to Belarus, Gnyot faces additional charges of participating in an extremist group, which carries a potential 10-year prison sentence. The politically charged nature of these allegations has led to widespread condemnation and fears for Gnyot’s safety. Reports by international human rights organizations have extensively documented the torture and inhumane treatment of political prisoners in Belarus.

Gnyot fled Belarus in 2021 after receiving indications that authorities were aware of his activism. He first moved to Thailand before traveling to Serbia, a country that serves as a major hub for exiled Belarusians and Russians due to its visa policies. Unaware of the Interpol warrant against him, Gnyot’s arrest in Serbia has drawn international attention.

In December 2023, the Higher Court in Belgrade, Serbia ruled that the conditions for Gnyot’s extradition were met. However, on 12 March 2024, the Court of Appeal overturned this decision and sent the case for review. The final decision on his extradition is still pending, with human rights advocates urging Serbian authorities to deny the extradition request and release Gnyot immediately.

Advocates argue that Serbia, as an European Union (EU) candidate state, should uphold democratic values and human rights by refusing to extradite Gnyot. They stress the importance of protecting journalists and activists from politically motivated persecution and ensuring that individuals like Gnyot receive fair treatment and necessary medical care while in custody. The international community continues to watch closely as Serbia deliberates on the case, hoping for a decision that aligns with the principles of justice and human rights.

The authorities of non-democratic countries use the Interpol warrant as a mechanism to get hold of political dissidents. In the meantime, Interpol received a request from a lawyer to delete Gnyot from the Interpol – database. Interpol made a decision on 20 February 2024 to temporarily block member states’ access to his data. According to Interpol’s rules it should take a longer period to decide if the data should be removed.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), strongly condemns the detention and potential extradition of Belarusian journalist Andrey Gnyot by Serbian authorities. Gnyot’s prolonged incarceration under politically motivated charges, his deteriorating health, and lack of medical care are severe violations of human rights and press freedom. As an EU candidate state, Serbia must reject Belarus’s request for extradition, release Gnyot immediately, and protect him from further persecution. The use of Interpol warrants by authoritarian regimes to silence dissent is an egregious abuse of international legal mechanisms that should not be tolerated.

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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