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Belarus10 September 2007

Dissident Andrei Klimau gets two years for online post, sentence kept secret for five weeks

Reporters Without Borders learnt today the two-year prison sentence which a Minsk judge secretly passed on opposition activist Andrei Klimau on 1 August for an article on the Internet. The sentence was revealed by a prosecutor’s office spokesman on 7 September and was officially confirmed today.

Arrested on 3 April, Klimau was transferred to a Minsk prison on 11 June. In a trial secretly held on 1 August, judge Alena Ilyina of the Minsk central court convicted him of “inciting the overthrow of the government?” under article 361 of the criminal code.

He is the first Belarusian dissident to be convicted and jailed for an article posted online.

A former member of the Supreme Soviet, Klimau has been arrested and jailed several times in the past and has been target of the government ever since he supported an attempt to impeach President Alexandre Lukashenko in 1996. In the offending article, he accused Lukashenko of being implicated in the murder of former deputy prime minister Viktar Hanchar, a symbol of the opposition.

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