The 28-year-old became a household name in the West after his Ryanair flight was diverted in 2021
Belarusian authorities have reportedly pardoned the former editor-in-chief of the Nexta Telegram channel, Roman Protasevich, according to state media outlet Belta. On May 3, the opposition journalist was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of attempting to seize power through unconstitutional means.
According to Belta, Protasevich told journalists on Monday that he had already completed all the paperwork securing his release. “Literally, I just signed all the relevant documents that I was pardoned. This, of course, is just great news,” he said.
Protasevich was initially arrested on May 23, 2021, amid a wave of violent anti-government protests that rocked Belarus in 2020 and 2021. The journalist was detained aboard a Ryanair flight en route from Greece to Lithuania that was forced to land in Minsk due to an alleged bomb threat.
As the editor-in-chief of the ‘Nexta’ and ‘Belarus of the Brain’ Telegram channels, which were declared extremist organizations by the Belarusian authorities, Protasevich was tried for organizing mass riots and making public calls to seize power, commit acts of terrorism, and other actions aimed at harming the national security of Belarus.
In April, in his final remarks before sentencing, Protasevich asked the court presiding over his case for “a fair punishment without deprivation of freedom.”
On May 3, a court in Minsk gave the journalist an eight-year prison term, finding him guilty of all charges. The judge, however, took into consideration that Protasevich had cooperated with the investigation and also factored in the time he had already spent in pretrial detention under house arrest.
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May 22, 2023 at 03:54PM