Journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva is seen in a court room in Minsk, Belarus, on February 18, 2021. Katsiaryna was recently sentenced to an additional eight years in prison. (AP Photo)

Belarusian journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva convicted of treason, sentenced to additional 8 years imprisonment

Paris, July 13, 2022 — In response to a Belarusian court’s conviction Wednesday of journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva on treason charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement condemning the decision.

“By convicting journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva on ludicrous treason charges only a few months before the end of her first prison term, Belarusian authorities are making it clear that they will be ruthless in continuing to take revenge on journalists who covered the 2020 protests demanding President Aleksandr Lukashenko resign,” said CPJ Executive Director Robert Mahoney, in New York. “Authorities must not contest Andreyeva’s appeal and should release her immediately, along with all other jailed members of the press.”

During a closed hearing on Wednesday, July 13, a court in the southeastern city of Homel convicted Andreyeva, a correspondent with the Poland-based independent broadcaster Belsat TV, of “giving away state secrets,” a form of treason, and sentenced her to eight years in prison, according to media reports and Viasna, a banned Belarusian human rights group.

Barys Haretski, deputy head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), a local advocacy and trade group, told CPJ via email that the journalist plans to appeal the verdict.

Andreyeva is already serving a two-year prison sentence for allegedly organizing an illegal protest, after authorities arrested her in November 2020 while livestreaming demonstrations against Lukashenko’s disputed reelection. Prior to the treason conviction, she was set to be released on September 5, BAJ reported.

Authorities charged Andreyeva with treason in April 2022, and did not reveal the grounds for the charges. CPJ emailed the Belarusian Investigative Committee and called the Homel Regional Court for comment, but did not receive any replies.