Aug. 24, 2005 at 8:51PM

Cartoonist and Internet workers face jail

Pro-democracy leaders from around the world are protesting Belarus after it threatened a cartoonist and two Internet operators with five years in prison.

The Times of London reports Belarus security forces raided three apartments in Minsk, confiscated a dozen computers and began the legal process against the three for slandering President Alexander Lukashenko.

Oleg Minich created short cartoons satirizing Lukashenko and Andrei Obuzov and Pavel Morozov put them on their Web site.

This comes after more than 20 independent newspapers were shuttered by the government over the past two years, and three reporters were sentenced to prison, for insulting Lukashenko.

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the threats as an example of "authoritarianism prevailing in Belarus."

Prominent politicians including former Czech President Vaclav Havel, former German President Richard von Weizsacker, former Irish President Mary Robinson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and liberal financier George Soros have demanded that the European Union and the United States actively support political opposition to Lukashenko