A court in Belarus convicted and sentenced journalist Dzianis Ivashyn (left) to 13 years and one month in prison for treason and interfering with law enforcement on September 14, 2022. (Photo Credit: Volha Ivashyna)

CPJ condemns 13-year sentence for Belarusian journalist Dzianis Ivashyn

Paris, September 14, 2022 – In response to multiple news reports that a court in Belarus on Wednesday convicted and sentenced Dzianis Ivashyn to 13 years and one month in prison for treason and interfering with law enforcement, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement condemning the court ruling:

“CPJ is deeply shocked by Dzianis Ivashyn’s 13-year prison sentence. The charges against him appear to be entirely fabricated and designed to terrorize independent journalists and discourage them from pursuing their work in Belarus,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Belarusian authorities must not contest Ivashyn’s appeal and release him immediately, along with all other jailed members of the press.”

The court on Wednesday also fined Ivashyn 4,800 rubles (US$1,900) and ordered him to pay a total of 18,000 rubles (US$7,130) in “moral compensation” to nine unidentified people in whose activities he allegedly interfered, according to those reports; Viasna, a banned Belarusian human rights group; and his wife Volha Ivashyna, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app and added that Ivashyn plans to appeal the verdict.

“We, of course, did not expect the system, which the [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko regime created on the ruins of the judicial system, to be fair,” Volha Ivashyna told CPJ. “The so-called ‘verdict’ announced today is personal revenge on Dzianis Ivashyn for a life stance based on principles, his journalistic activities, and his investigations. The ‘verdict’ actually shows how much Lukashenko and his entourage fear and hate independent, truthful journalists and Dzianis personally.”

Ivashyn is a freelance investigative reporter for independent news website Novy Chas and a volunteer editor of the Belarusian-language website of the international investigative project InformNapalm. He was detained in March 2021 for reporting about former Ukrainian riot officers working for the Belarusian police, and the KGB, the Belarusian security service, accused Ivashyn of cooperating with Ukrainian intelligence, as CPJ and Viasna documented.

Belarus was the world’s fifth worst jailer of journalists, with at least 19 journalists behind bars on December 1, 2021, when CPJ conducted its most recent prison census.