Polish photojournalist expelled, banned from Belarus for five years

New York, August 8, 2005—A Polish photojournalist was expelled from Belarus on Saturday and banned from the country for five years. The Committee to Protect Journalists said today it is disturbed by the expulsion of Adam Tuchlinksi, 25, of the weekly news magazine Przekroj.

Belarusian security agents detained Tuchlinksi as he was about to board a Poland-bound train in the western city of Grodno, according to international reports. Agents took him to a local police station where he was held for several hours and told he lacked proper accreditation to work in Belarus. He returned to Poland on a later train on Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

Tuchlinski was visiting Belarus on a tourist visa, the Polish news agency PAP reported, citing information from the local Polish Association of Belarus. It was unclear whether he had done any journalism work during his visit to Grodno, which has a sizeable population of ethnic Poles.

Tuchlinksi had been detained before by Belarusian security services (KGB). During local elections in March, KGB agents detained him and two other Polish journalists at a polling station in Grodno, citing a lack of accreditation. The three were released after three hours after the Polish consul intervened on their behalf, the AP reported.

Saturday’s expulsion follows the recent arrests of several members of the Polish Association of Belarus stemming from demonstrations in Grodno. Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has accused the group of scheming to overthrow him, the AP said.

Also on Saturday, Belarusian authorities refused to admit independent Polish journalist Marcin Smialowski, PAP reported. The news agency said Smialowski had a proper press accreditation and visa.

“We’re concerned by the restrictive actions taken against our colleagues, and we urge Belarusian authorities to allow both Adam Tuchlinksi and Marcin Smialowski to report in Belarus without fear of repercussions,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said.