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Germany21 October 2002

Belarus journalist freed

Natallie Sudliankova, a Belarus journalist working for Radio Free Europe, was released by the German authorities on 18 October and returned to Prague.

10.16.2002 - Arrested Belarus journalist and political refugee may be deported

Reporters Without Borders expressed concern today at the detention in Bamberg (Bavaria) of Radio Free Europe journalist Natallie Sudliankova, who faces deportation to her home country, Belarus.

"She is an opponent of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, whose regime routinely violates all international norms of human rights and press freedom and who has just sent three journalists to prison to serve terms at hard labour," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to the Bamberg public prosecutor

Sudliankova, arrested by German police on 6 October at the Czech-German border crossing of Pomezi-nad-Ohri/Schinding and put in an extradition cell in Bamberg, has been a political refugee in the Czech Republic since January 1999. Interpol are seeking to detain her at the behest of the Belarus authorities, officially for fraud. The Czech interior minister refused to extradite her this January saying the Belarus charges against her were false.

"To accede to the Belarus extradition request would be taking responsibility for any subsequent ill-treatment of her," said Ménard. "We urge you to reject the demand and release her at once."

Mrs Sudliankova ex-owner of the Fico company, supports the opposition National Belarus Front., whose members are constantly pestered by the regime. The three imprisoned journalists were convicted and jailed in recent months for "insulting" President Lukashenko.

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