Belarusian court sentences NEXTA’s former chief editor Roman Protasevich to 8 years in prison

A court in Belarus has sentenced Roman Protasevich, the former chief editor of the NEXTA Telegram channel, to 8 years in prison, RIA Novosti reports.

The Belarusian Prosecutor’s office requested 10 years for Protasevich.

Stsiapan Putsila, the founder of NEXTA, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, while a former editor of the channel Yan Rudik was sentenced to 19 years.

All three were found guilty of insults and libel towards Alyaksandar Lukashenka, the Belarusian president, inciting social enmity and hatred, as well as managing an extremist organisation.

Protasevich was charged with managing an extremist organisation in April. NEXTA is declared “extremist” in Belarus, and Roman is included in the country’s list of terrorists.

On 23 May 2021, the Belarusian law enforcement arrested Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, Russian national Sofia Sapega, after their Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk.

On 6 May, a court in Belarus’ Grodno sentenced Sapega to six years behind bars for “inciting hatred”. She was also found guilty of illegally collecting and distributing personal data.

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