The pretext for the detention was the money Satsuk had allegedly received for EJ's investigative journalism more than a year ago. These funds are incriminated as a "bribe" under part 2 of article 430 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (receiving a bribe, punishable by imprisonment for three to ten years).
Siarhei Satsuk is known as a journalist and editor engaged in investigative journalism. One of his high-profile investigations was a series of articles in EJ.BY about corruption in the health care system of Belarus. Later, a number of high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Health Care were convicted of corruption.
In August 2019, Siarhei Satsuk told BelaPAN that he had received threats because of his journalistic activities. The detention of a well-known journalist and subsequent interrogation of EJ's staff can lead to intimidation of journalists and the development of self-censorship in the media covering socially significant issues (including corruption and the spread of coronavirus in Belarus).
The Belarusian Association of Journalists calls on the authorities of the Republic of Belarus:
- to immediately release Siarhei Satsuk and drop criminal charges against him;
- comply with the guarantees provided to journalists by the Belarusian legislation and international obligations of the Republic of Belarus, stop harassment, intimidation and other aggressive actions against journalists for performing their professional duties.
Adopted by the Board of the Belarusian Association of Journalists