Belarus opens trial of journalist for prominent Polish paper

Jan 15, 2023, 4:47 PM | Updated: Jan 16, 2023, 11:35 am
Journalist Andrzej Poczobut stands in a defendants' cage during a court session in Grodno, Belarus,...

Journalist Andrzej Poczobut stands in a defendants' cage during a court session in Grodno, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and prominent member of the country's sizable Polish minority, the latest in a series of court cases against critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. (Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP)

(Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP)

              Journalist Andrzej Poczobut stands in a defendants' cage during a court session in Grodno, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and prominent member of the country's sizable Polish minority, the latest in a series of court cases against critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. (Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP)
            
              Journalist Andrzej Poczobut stands in a defendants' cage during a court session in Grodno, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and prominent member of the country's sizable Polish minority, the latest in a series of court cases against critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. (Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP)
            
              Journalist Andrzej Poczobut stands in a defendants' cage during a court session in Grodno, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and prominent member of the country's sizable Polish minority, the latest in a series of court cases against critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. (Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP)
            
              Journalist Andrzej Poczobut, center, stands in a defendants' cage during a court session in Grodno, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and prominent member of the country's sizable Polish minority, the latest in a series of court cases against critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. (Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP)
            
              Journalist Andrzej Poczobut stands in a defendants' cage during a court session in Grodno, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and prominent member of the country's sizable Polish minority, the latest in a series of court cases against critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. (Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP)

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and prominent member of the country’s sizable Polish minority, the latest in a series of court cases against critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Andrzej Poczobut, 49, faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of the charges of harming national security and inciting discord. Poczobut, a journalist for the influential Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and a top figure in the Union of Poles in Belarus, has been behind bars since his detention in March 2021.

He widely covered major protests that gripped Belarus for weeks in 2020 following a presidential election that gave Lukashenko, in power since 1994, a new term in office, but that was widely regarded by the opposition and Western countries as fraudulent.

The trial in the western city of Grodno was closed to independent journalists and Western diplomats, but photos from the courtroom suggested that Poczobut has lost significant weight while in custody.

In Poland a spokesman for the government, Piotr Mueller, said that despite “numerous diplomatic efforts, unfortunately, we have no additional tools that could help in this area” of political freedom in Belarus. He said it was a “scandalous situation.”

Mueller told a news conference in Warsaw that Poland will continue diplomatic efforts to change the situation.

“But we know very well that at this point authorities in Belarus are directly linked to Russia and that they are pursuing a defined policy that counters not only Poland but the entire democratic area that holds human rights as top state priorities,” Mueller said.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry said it met the information about Poczobut’s trial with “disappointment” and said the charges are “untrue and politically motivated.”

The ministry appealed for Poczobut’s release and said his imprisonment constituted “another example of the instrumental use of the justice system against any and all democratic standards and an element in the anti-Polish campaign pursued by the authorities of Belarus.”

In the eastern Polish city of Bialystok, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border with Belarus, a group of protesters representing Belarusian diaspora and human rights organizations gathered before the Belarusian consulate to demand freedom for Poczobut and other political prisoners.

The 2020 protests in Belarus were the largest and most sustained in the country. Authorities responded to the demonstrations with a crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested, thousands beaten by police and dozens of media outlets and nongovernmental organizations shut.

This month, Belarus put human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, a co-winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, on trial for financing protests. Another trial against two top figures of the now-banned independent news portal TUT.BY began last week.

About 300,000 of Belarus’ 10 million people are ethnic Poles. The Union of Poles came under government pressure after authorities accused Poland of trying to foment an uprising against Lukashenko.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
22 hours ago
FILE - The company logo highlights the grille of a 2021 Tacoma pickup truck on display in the Toyot...
Associated Press

Toyota reports 8% drop in Oct-Dec profit, keeps forecast

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota reported a 8.1% drop in fiscal third quarter profit Thursday, as a global shortage of computer chips and soaring raw material costs battering the auto industry hit Japan’s top automaker. Toyota Motor Corp.’s October-December profit totaled 727.9 billion yen ($5.6 billion), down from 791.7 billion yen the previous year. The company […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Wednesday’s Scores

BOYS PREP BASKETBALL= District Tournament= Class 1A District 2= King’s 76, Summit Sierra 37 Northwest School 50, Bear Creek School 34 Overlake School 69, Eastside Prep 32 Seattle Academy 69, Sultan 59 Class 1A District 7= Colville 48, Newport 43 Deer Park 69, Riverside 45 Class 1B District 4= Columbia Adventist Academy 52, Pe Ell […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Wednesday’s Scores

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL= District Tournament= Class 1A District 1= Lynden Christian 70, Meridian 36 Nooksack Valley 98, Blaine 21 Class 1B District 2= Evergreen Lutheran 29, Crosspoint Academy 27 Puget Sound Adventist 49, Pope John Paul II 21 Sound Christian 45, Northwest Yeshiva 30 Class 1B District 7= Inchelium 60, Wilbur-Creston 39 Odessa 58, Curlew […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman takes the stage at an election night party in Pittsburg...
Associated Press

Sen. John Fetterman hospitalized after feeling lightheaded

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democrat who suffered a stroke during his campaign last year, was hospitalized Wednesday night after feeling lightheaded while attending a Senate Democratic retreat, his office said. Initial tests at George Washington University Hospital did not show evidence of a new stroke, Fetterman’s communications director, Joe Calvello, […]
22 hours ago
People warm up with fire in front of destroyed buildings in Antakya, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Fe...
Associated Press

Death toll in Turkey, Syria earthquake surpasses 15,000

GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AP) — The death toll from the catastrophic earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria rose to more than 15,000 as more bodies were pulled from the rubble of collapsed homes in the stricken zone, Turkey’s disaster management agency said Thursday. The agency said 12,391 people had been confirmed killed in Turkey after Monday’s […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Belarus opens trial of journalist for prominent Polish paper