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Journalist Ihar Karnei to be tried in Belarus for 'participation in extremist group'

by Olena Goncharova March 3, 2024 6:12 AM 2 min read
Ihar Karnei, a former freelance journalist with Radio Svaboda, was detained in Minsk in July, 2023. (RFE/RL via the Committee to Protect Journalists) 
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Ihar Karnei, a former freelance journalist with Radio Svaboda, the Belarus service of the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), will be tried in Minsk on March 19.

Karnei is reportedly charged with "participation in an extremist group," the Belarusian service of RFE/RL reports, citing the human rights organization Viasna.

Authorities in Minsk searched the home of Karnei in July 2023, detained him, and ordered him to be held for 10 days, according to a Facebook post by his daughter Palina Karnei. Police seized computers and phones during the search of his apartment.

Since 2020, Belarusian authorities have intensified their crackdown on journalists, particularly amid mass protests following the disputed reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko. According to CPJ's latest prison census conducted on December 1, 2022, Belarus was ranked as the world's fifth worst jailer of journalists, with a minimum of 26 journalists imprisoned.

Karnei was held in Akrestina temporary detention center in Minsk, according to a report by the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an advocacy and trade group operating from exile.

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2023 prison census ranked Belarus as the world's third worst jailer of journalists, with a minimum of 28 journalists imprisoned.

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