Belarus seeks extradition of its exiled journalists from Poland

Belarus has asked Poland to extradite the founders of the Warsaw-based Telegram Nexta and Nexta-Live channels, which have become one of the main sources of news from Belarus.

Poland has received a note with a copy of the applications for the extradition of Stsiapan Putsila and Roman Protasevich in order to bring them to criminal liability, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on its website.

The note was handed on Monday to the charge d'affaires of the Polish Embassy in Minsk Marcin Wojciechowski.

The extradition requests were sent to Poland's Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor's Office by the General Prosecutor's Office of Belarus.

"Belarus has expressed concern about the continued criminal activity of S. Putsila and R. Protasevich through their extremist channels in Telegram Nexta and Nexta Live," the Belarus foreign ministry's statement read.

Poland was called upon to urgently hand over the men, "taking into account the particular social danger (resulting from) their criminal activities".

Nexta TV broadcasts user-generated content from its two million subscribers on YouTube and the messaging app Telegram. The channel’s videos of mass demonstrations aimed to unseat Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko have been shared by international news agencies.

In October, Telegram channel Nexta-Live and the Nexta logo were deemed extremist by the Supreme Court in Minsk. According to the court, extremist materials contain information with signs of extremist activity, namely "organisation and public calls for the implementation of mass riots."