At Least Seven Belarusian Journalists Ordered Not To Leave Country

MINSK -- Belarusian authorities have imposed travel bans on several journalists working for three independent media outlets who are suspected of having obtained information illegally from state-run news agency BelTA.

A correspondent of Germany's Deutsche Welle radio in Minsk, Paulyuk Bykouski, said on August 27 that the Investigative Committee had ordered him not to leave the country as the investigation into the alleged hacking of BelTA’s computer systems is underway.

Bykouski added that he was ordered not to provide details of the case to the public.

Meanwhile, Tatsyana Karavyankova, a reporter with the BelaPAN news agency, told RFE/RL that she and her chief editor Iryna Leushyna had also been ordered not to leave Belarus for an unspecified period.

Karavyankova said that travel bans were also imposed on four journalists working for the private online news portal -- Halina Ulasik, Hanna Kaltyhina, Hanna Yermachonak, and Dzmitry Bobryk.

The journalists were among 18 reporters detained for 24 hours for questioning on August 7 as part of the investigation. Investigators have also searched the newsrooms of and BelaPAN.

Rights groups have charged that the government is trying to muzzle independent media that are critical of strongman President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his government.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has denied that allegation.

With reporting by Deutsche Welle