Brussels, May 25, 2021 – In response to a statement yesterday by the European Council demanding the immediate release of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and calling for sanctions on Belarusian officials, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“We welcome the call by European leaders for the immediate release of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich, but the EU must now use real political force to make that demand a reality,” said Tom Gibson, CPJ’s European Union representative. “EU High Representative Josep Borrell should consider further sanctions on the Belarusian government, and the Council of the European Union should speedily approve measures to hold Belarus accountable.”
On May 23, Belarusian authorities diverted a commercial Ryanair flight en route from Athens, Greece, to Vilinus, Lithuania, and forced it to land in Minsk, Belarus, where authorities detained Pratasevich, co-founder of NEXTA and chief editor of Belarus of the Brain, two Telegram channels that have covered protests against Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, as CPJ documented. Authorities also detained his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, who was traveling with him.