The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on Belarus’s Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that found Aliaksandar Zdzvizhkou, former deputy editor of Zhoda newspaper guilty of inciting religious hatred for re-printing the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in 2006.
“This prosecution is an attack on press freedom that the government has tried to disguise by claiming religious hatred,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Media should be guided by their own sense of ethics and the industry should police itself.”
Zdzvizhkou’s trial began in November 2007 and he was convicted and given a three-year jail sentence in January. His appeal before the Supreme Court is scheduled to take place tomorrow, Friday.
The IFJ is supporting his appeal and believe that the criminal charges against him should be overturned. Zdzvizhkou’s health has also suffered during his imprisonment and he is currently in a prison hospital.
Last week, the government freed activist and journalist Andrei Klimau who had been convicted of trying to overthrow the government and jailed after he wrote articles critical of the government that were published on the Internet.
The IFJ hopes that this is a sign by the government that it will not jail journalists for press offences and will set the stage for Zdzvizhkou’s release.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide