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Belarusian journalist Alyaksandr Alesin held by KGB on spying charges

This statement was originally published on on 9 December 2014.

The Committee for State Security (KGB) said yesterday that it has been holding journalist Alyaksandr Alesin since 25 November on spying charges that carry a sentence of five to 15 years in prison.

Reporters Without Borders calls for Alesin's immediate release and respect for his right to due process.

The KGB yesterday told his family that he is charged under articles 356 and 356-1 of the Belarus penal code with “high treason” and “collaborating with the special security services or intelligence services of a foreign government.”

The main suspect in the case is said to be a foreign diplomat which whom Alesin was having a drink in a Minsk café when they were reportedly detained by KGB agents.

A state-appointed lawyer has requested that Alesin, who has heart problems, should be released on health grounds. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities not to hold his trial behind close doors, the usual practice when journalists are accused of spying.

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