Katarina Andreeva, a Belarusian journalist who is already serving a two-year prison sentence in the country was on Wednesday sentenced to a further eight years in prison by a court in the city of Homel after being found guilty of “state treason.”
Andreeva, 28, was arrested in November 2020 along with her colleague Darya Chultsova after reporting on mass opposition protests in the country ruled by the Lukashenko regime.
The pair were taking video footage of a demonstration in commemoration of the killing of Raman Banderenko who had died at the hands of Belarusian forces during protests against the fraudulent presidential election. Both journalists were accused of incitement to riot and sentenced to two-year terms in penal colonies by a court in Minsk.
The Belsat TV journalist was due to leave prison in September when her first two-year prison term ends, but now it is looking increasingly likely that she will be spending a total of 10 years in prison. Her trial for treason was held behind closed doors with Andreeva’s defense attorney prevented from revealing any information about the trial following a gag order filed by the prosecution.
In February 2022, Andreeva was taken without notice to a detention facility in Homel, and for almost two months, she and her family were not aware of what she was being accused of. She was charged with treason at the beginning of April.
Belsat TV, which is part of the Polish state corporate television network TVP, commented wryly back in 2021 that the free world had become accustomed to journalists going to prison in Belarus despite the fact that Belarus lies so close to Warsaw and Vilnius. The station maintains that the sentences handed down by the Belarusian regime are a violation of both international standards and Belarusian law.