AMNESTY International have launched an urgent action after a disturbing broadcast of Raman Pratasevich making a confession was televised.
The co-founder and former editor of the NEXTA Telegram channel appeared distraught and injured in the televised statement.
The video broadcast which was released via state-run Belarusian media on May 24 featured Pratasevich saying that he is cooperating with the investigators” and “confessing to organising mass disorders in the city of Minsk”, he had visible bruises on his face.
Pratasevich was added to Belarus’s list of “individuals involved in terrorist activity”, purely due to his journalistic work, and has been charged with “incitement of mass riots”, “gross violation of public order” and “incitement of social hatred” against public officials and law enforcement agents.
Pratasevich was detained in Minsk airport along with his partner Sofia Sapega following an order from the Belarusian authorities to stop their flight from Athens to Vilnius for his arrest.
Amnesty International say that both Pratasevich and Sapega are in risk of torture and other bad treatment.
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said: “We call on our supporters worldwide to join the Urgent Action demanding the immediate release of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega.
“Their arrest is arbitrary and unlawful, and its circumstances are nothing short of horrifying. We feared from the onset that they may be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
“Now Belarusian state media have released video footage showing Raman “confessing” to nothing more than having been involved with the organization of protests, and we are concerned that this “confession” may have been obtained under duress.”
She added: “Given the patterns of human rights violations of the Belarusian secret services, we are seriously concerned that the health and life of Raman Pratasevich is in danger. We believe that his partner Sofia Sapega, a Russian citizen, is being detained only to exert further pressure on Raman.”