Poland summons Belarusian envoy over sentencing of Polish activist
Poland's foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned the Belarusian charge d’affaires after a Belarusian-Polish journalist and minority activist was sentenced to eight-years' imprisonment for "fomenting hatred" and "acting to the detriment of Belarus".
Andrzej Poczobut was arrested in March 2021 on charges of "instigating hatred against religious and national groups, and rehabilitating Nazism."
On Wednesday, he was found guilty and sentenced by the Grodno Circuit Court, in Belarus.
According to the Belarusian court, Poczobut "called for actions to the detriment of Belarus" through publications in the media and the internet, and committed "deliberate actions aimed at inciting hostility and hatred on national, religious and social grounds." Wednesday's court judgment is not final.
"In connection with the shameful sentence passed in Grodno on the heroic journalist Andrzej Poczobut, the charge d'affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Poland, Alaksander Czasnouski, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Łukasz Jasina, the ministry's spokesman, wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Poland's foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the sentencing of Poczobut.
"The politically motivated show trial, aimed at Polish identity, and today's verdict are clear testimony to the anti-Polish actions of the Belarusian authorities. We condemn the unjust verdict issued by the court of an authoritarian state. Andrzej Poczobut is a Polish and Belarusian patriot. We stand behind him," the ministry wrote.
The statement added that "the systemic discrimination of the Polish minority in Belarus, which has been going on for many years, was crowned today with the scandalous long-term prison sentence for a Polish activist arrested almost two years ago. We object to the use of Poles living in Belarus as political hostages."
The ministry called for "the immediate and unconditional release of Poczobut."
A long-time correspondent for Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, Poczobut was also active in the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), a Polish minority organisation that has been delegalised by the Belarusian authorities.