Police searches took place on several floors of the Omega Tower business center where TUT.BY news outlet is headquartered on Tuesday, 7 August.
For the first time in its 20-year history.
В офисе портала https://t.co/SAPdczGoiG в бизнес-центре Omega Tower на проспекте Дзержинского, 57 с утра вторника проходит обыск, несколько этажей оцепили сотрудники правоохранительных органов.https://t.co/ocvVNP84x7
— TUT.BY (@tutby) August 7, 2018
The police searched offices of the Belarusian major independent media outlet TUT.BY and BelaPAN news agency.
TUT.BY editor-in-chief Marina Zolotova, editor Anna Kaltygina, and Tatyana Korovenkova of BelaPAN were detained.
Law enforcement officers seized computers and documents, several employees of the company were summoned for questioning.
A criminal case was initiated after the state-owned news agency BelTA had reported abuse access to their paid subscription.
The Belarusian Investigative Committee treat it as ‘unauthorized access to information, made out of personal interest, which caused significant harm’.
“This is not the case against TUT.BY. So far, it’s about several employees of the company not the whole portal.
We are displeased that it partially blocked workflow, people are not allowed into the office.
Nonetheless, reporters continue to work from home, news are published,” TUT.BY founder Yury Zisser commented on the situation.
At the moment at least 12 people were detained, some of them for three days at the temporary detention facility.
The procedural status of other detainees remains unknown. More detentions followed on Wednesday, 8 August.
Deutsche Welle freelancer journalist Pavel Bykovsky, three Realt.by reporters and their editor-in-chief Vladislav Kuletsky and journalist Aleksei Zhukov.
Besides, eyewitnesses reported about police raids in “Kultura” newspaper. The claim remains the same – illegal access to state-run BelTA news.
This is how other news agencies, our colleagues and ordinary Belarusians reacted.
#Arrests and searches of prominent Belarusian #media are alarming. We call on #Belarus to release the journalists and conduct a full and transparent investigation of the arrests. #Freedomofexpressionhttps://t.co/unHI2IQVwh
— Daniel Holtgen (@CoESpokesperson) August 7, 2018
Several floors of the https://t.co/V9geUUx6hx portal office located in the Omega Tower business center in #Minsk are being searched by the Police. @baj_by is following the situation #Belarus https://t.co/VHIWxjy6Os
— EFJ (@EFJEUROPE) August 7, 2018
MORE on #Belarus raids: Several journalists reportedly detained in raids on several independent media outlets (incl. https://t.co/NIpVVXOqUD), accused of unlawfully accessing state news agency BelTA’s internal systems. Officially three detained, but more reported.
— Ben Tavener (@BenTavener) August 7, 2018
#Minsk police raid offices of https://t.co/JuiRx07tQu, #BelaPAN over ‘illegal access to information owned by state-run news agency’ https://t.co/X5fw06UG38 #Belarus @OSCE_RFoM @pressfreedom @RSF_EECA #mediafreedom pic.twitter.com/LkDsWJMDGA
— Belsat in English (@Belsat_Eng) August 7, 2018
Police raid offices of independent @tutby portal and news agency @BelaPAN. Three #journos have been detained for allegedly hacking and illegally accessing information and newsfeed of state-owned news agency monopolist BelTA #Belarus #media #pressfreedom
— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) August 7, 2018
International organizations, human rights activists, local authorities and foreign media also expressed their concern over police raids and journalists’ detentions in a number of independent-media organisations in Belarus.
Recall that BelarusFeed is a side project of TUT.BY.