IFJ Condemns Three-year Jail Term for Belarusian Editor Who Republished Danish Cartoons

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned a recent decision by a Belarusian court to send a newspaper editor to jail for three years because he republished two years ago Danish cartoons that had set off a controversy around the world.

“This is an unbelievably harsh sentence,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “The judge in Belarus imposed a three year jail sentence for an editor who republished the original pictures while no one in Denmark faced any jail time for the original production and publication of the work. When he published the photos at the time they had a legitimate news value and he should never have been charged in the first place.”

On January 18 the judge of the Mensk City Court, Ruslan Aniskevich, sentenced Zhoda’s former editor Aliaksandar Zdzvizhkou to three years of imprisonment in a medium security colony after he was found guilty of “inflaming racial, national or religious hatred committed by an official person using one’s position.”

The charges stemmed from Zdzvizhkou’s decision to re-print in February 2006 the notorious Danish caricatures of Prophet Mohammad from Jullands-Posten newspaper.

The IFJ is joining its affiliates the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the Danish Union of Journalists in protest against this decision.

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide