Belarusian freelance journalist Alexander Burakov, who regularly reports for Germany’s Deutsche Welle, was freed Tuesday after 20 days in jail where he said he was tortured for covering an “unauthorized event.”
Germany has been trenchant in its criticism of Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko over his brutal crackdown on anti-regime protesters and the recent shock diversion of an international flight to arrest an opposition journalist on board.
Burakov was “freed from prison on Tuesday after 20 days in detention,” Deutsche Welle said.
“I am very relieved that our colleague has withstood the unlawful detention more or less unscathed,” DW’s director general Peter Limbourg said in a statement.
“But there are growing concerns that the spiral of state violence against journalists keeps turning.”
He said it was becoming more likely that the regime in Belarus will “hush the last independent voices in the country, no matter by what means.”
Burakov was arrested on May 12 for covering the trial of opposition activist Pavel Sevyarynets and others and was charged three days later with participating in an “unauthorized event.”
Burakov told the court he had been “subjected to torture and inhuman treatment” in prison, woken up several times at night and forced to undress.
Media rights monitor Reporters Without Borders ranked Belarus 158th out of 180 in the world in its 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
According to the Belarusian independent rights group Viasna, there are 449 political prisoners incarcerated in the former Soviet republic.