Belarus detains around 20 journalists preparing to cover protest: Reuters witness

Law enforcement officers detaining a journalist who was on assignment are photographed by a Reuters photographer shortly before his detention, in central Minsk, Belarus August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarusian police detained around 20 journalists preparing to cover a protest in central Minsk on Thursday and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, a Reuters witness said.

The Interior Ministry later said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check they had valid accreditaton allowing them to work as journalists.

It said all those with official accreditation would be released. It denied the journalists had been detained.

Large and sustained nationwide protests have followed a presidential election on Aug. 9 that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s opponents say was rigged.

The journalists had planned to cover a demonstration in which hundreds of anti-government protesters marched along a central Minsk street on Thursday evening.

Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Mark Heinrich