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By Andrei Aliaksandrau / 19 July 2013
Award-winning Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip has had her two-year suspended sentence lifted by a Minsk court, Andrei Aliaksandrau reports
Khalip, known for her harsh criticism of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus authoritarian ruler, was arrested on 19 December 2010 together with her husband Andrei Sannikov, an opposition presidential candidate. in May 2011 she was sentenced to two years of suspended imprisonment for “participation in mass disturbances”. The authorities of the country considered peaceful protests against the election fraud that happened in Minsk in December 2010 to be “mass riots” and used them as a pretext for severe clampdown on political opponents, civil society and independent journalists.
Khalip’s suspended prison term was due to expire on Sunday, 21 July. The decision to lift the sentence removes restrictions she faced for the last two years. She was not allowed to leave Minsk, had to be at home by 10 p.m. every day and report to the police weekly.
“They took three years of my life; for two years I lived under de-facto house arrest. They should not expect me to thank them for not sending me to prison,” Iryna Khalip told journalists today.
“There can be no such thing as an ‘ex-political prisoner’ until this fascist regime is here in our country,” the journalist added.
According to Belarusian human rights defenders, there are still 12 political prisoners in Belarus. Index on Censorship continues to call on the authorities of the country for their immediate and unconditional release.
International human rights groups, including Index on Censorship, will hold an International Day of Solidarity with civil society of Belarus on 4 August in support of political prisoners, human rights defenders and civic activists in Belarus.Alexander Lukashenko | Belarus | Iryna Khalip | political prisoner
Index on Censorship has dedicated its milestone 250th issue to exploring the increasing threats to reporters worldwide. Its special report, Truth in Danger, Danger in Truth: Journalists Under Fire and Under Pressure, is out soon. Highlights include Lindsey Hilsum, writing about her friend and colleague, the murdered war reporter Marie Colvin, and asking whether journalists should still be covering war zones. Stephen Grey looks at the difficulties of protecting sources in an era of mass surveillance.