Belarusian journalist released from KGB jail, banned from travelling

Aleksandr Alesin, journalist with the Minsk-based independent newspaper Belorusy i rynok (Belarusians and the Market), was released from prison on December 10, 2014, but banned from traveling outside Belarus pending investigation, local and international press reported.

According to Belorusy i rynok, authorities amended their initial charges against Alesin – espionage and treason, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years–to “cooperation with a foreign secret service,” which can be punished by up to two years in jail. Following his release, Alesin signed a pledge not to reveal information about the investigation into his activities, reports said.

The journalist went missing on November 25, when according to news reports KGB agents detained him at a local coffee shop in the capital Minsk, local press reported. Authorities denied detaining Alesin until December 8, when KGB agents confirmed they were holding the journalist and informed his family by phone that he was being charged with separate counts of espionage and treason. CPJ urged Belarusian authorities to release him immediately.

Alesin is known for analytical reports on Belarus’ military-industrial complex, as well as commentary on developments in the conflict in neighboring Ukraine. In commentary for Charter 97, he spoke about deployment of Russian military jets and S-300 surface-to-air missiles as deterrence to NATO.