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Belarus journalists being held

FIVE journalists detained in raids on the offices of two independent news outlets on Tuesday remained in police custody in Belarus yesterday.

Police said the journalists, all women, had been arrested for “illegally accessing online information” from the state news agency. Conviction carries a possible two-year jail sentence.

It is alleged that the media firms used a subscriber’s account to access the dispatches of the government news agency BelTA.

It was confirmed that Maryna Zolatava, editor-in-chief of news website Tut.by, was being held in a detention centre in the capital Minsk.

The whereabouts of Hanna Kaltyhina, Halina Ulasik, and Hanna Yermachonak of Tut.by and Tatsyana Karavyankova of the BelaPAN news agency was unknown.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) spokesman Johann Bihr said it was hard to see the charges “as anything other than attempts to intimidate leading independent media outlets at a time of growing harassment of critical journalists. 

“We urge the Belarusian authorities to allow these journalists to work freely.”

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