IWMF Condemns Sentencing of Belarusian Journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva

[July 13, 2022] – Today, Belarusian authorities sentenced imprisoned journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva to an additional eight years in prison on charges of “high treason,” the details of which were not provided. The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is outraged by this ruling and demands Belarusian authorities provide transparency about this shocking charge.

Andreyeva, a reporter with independent outlet Belsat TV and winner of the IWMF’s Wallis Annenberg Justice for Women Journalists Award last year, was arrested in November 2020 alongside fellow journalist and awardee Darya Chultsova while covering a political protest. Both were sentenced to two years in prison for, “organizing and preparing actions that seriously violated public order.” Having already served 604 days of that sentence, Andreyeva now stands to spend a decade of her life as a political prisoner, simply for doing her job.

The decision to charge Andreyeva with high treason was made with alarming opacity. Not only was the trial held behind closed doors, but Andreyeva’s attorney was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring him from sharing any details of the trial – even to Andreyeva’s family.

Andreyeva’s case illustrates how authoritarian regimes around the world use the language of treason, disruption and disorder to silence journalists’ voices and inhibit press freedom. A free and independent news media is foundational to democracy; we must remain vigilant when journalists’ freedom is attacked by unchecked political power.

We stand in support of Andreyeva, her family and loved ones in the wake of this abhorrent sentencing. The IWMF will continue to work with our international human rights partners to bring justice for Andreyeva and imprisoned journalists globally.