21 March 2005

Polish Journalists Released In Belarus

Belarusian authorities have released three Polish journalists who were briefly detained for lacking proper media credentials.

One of the reporters, Marcin Smialowski of the Polsat private TV channel, said he and two colleagues were detained yesterday at a polling station in the city of Grodno, about 280 kilometers west of the capital Minsk. They were covering an election for a district seat in parliament.

Smialowski said the incident is proof of the overall state of media freedom in Belarus. He accused Belarusian security services of keeping the three under constant surveillance during their time in Belarus.

He said they were held for three hours until the Polish consul intervened.

The West has accused Belarus of stifling political opposition and independent media and carrying out human rights abuses.