Police searched Minsk headquarters of the independent Belsat TV, a subsidiary of Poland’s Telewizja Polska, on Tuesday, 9 April.
Police searched the premises of the independent TV company in Minsk as part of an ongoing preliminary investigation into the ‘defamation case’.
The case might be related to the news story about corruption schemes in the Health Ministry, particularly, purchase of medical equipment. Due to a technical error, a draft version of the story was published on the website.
Later Belsat TV corrected the error, refuted the information and offered apologies. Shortly afterward, the Investigative Committee conducted a check and found no grounds for criminal prosecution.
However, in January 2018, the Prosecutor’s Office initiated a criminal case on application by General Andrey Shved who was concerned with the error.
As a result of the raid, all the computers and data storage devices were seized and journalists summoned for questioning.
Belsat sees the raid as a repressive measure against the independent media outlets and a way “to mop-up the information space in the run-up to the upcoming elections.”
They also recalled BelTA case, when journalists were accused, detained and tried for illegally accessing the paid subscriber section of the state-owned BelTA news wire.
In two years, Belsat journalists were detained 90 times and paid $74K fines. They are currently waiting for the response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that repeatedly denied the channel accreditation in Belarus.