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21.11.2011

Andrzej Poczobut receives Polish media award

   

Andrzej Poczubut, the Belarusian Polish journalist arrested and tried earlier this year for "defaming" Alexander Lukashenko has been awarded the Andrzej Wojciechowski Prize for his coverage of the situation in Belarus. 

Andrzej Poczobut, correspondent for the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus, was charged with insulting and defaming President Lukashenko.  He was arrested in April and held in custody for two years until the trial behind closed doors in June. There had been calls for his release from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), Catherine Ashton, the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, MEPs, and many others. Amnesty International declared Poczobut a prisoner of conscience.

Andrzej Poczobut, 38 years old, has worked for Gazeta Wyborcza since 2008. He lives in Hrodno with his wife and two children – his daughter is 11 and son, just one year old.

He had been imprisoned several times for his activities in the Union of Poles of Belarus which is not recognized by the authorities.

He spent 15 days in prison in February for taking part in anti-government disturbances which is how the 19 December protest, the biggest in 4 years, is described by the authorities.  Over 20 thousand people protested in the Belarusian capital against the rigged presidential elections. The protest was brutally crush and over 800 people were sentenced either to fines or to up to several years imprisonment.

Andrzej Poczobut was in Minsk as correspondent for Wyborcza and showed articles he had written as proof. These were rejected by the authorities who stripped him of his journalist accreditation two years ago.

There was ernomous relief in June when Poczobut received a suspended sentence.

In a letter to his readers in May Poczobut wrote: “I don’t regret anything. I would write every letter, comma and full stop in the same places and would even add several exclamation marks”.

A number of the reports about the arrest and trial of Head of the Viasna Human Rights Centre, Ales Bialiatski have been from Andrzej Poczobut who has no intention of remaining silent.

Information about the award here

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