Poland summons Belarusian diplomat over jail sentence for journalist

WARSAW, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Poland summoned Belarus' senior diplomat in Warsaw on Thursday to protest against the jailing for five years of a journalist accused of stirring anti-government trouble.

A Belarusian court found Iryna Slaunikava, of Polish broadcaster Belsat TV, guilty on Wednesday of setting up an extremist group and organising unrest, the latest of scores jailed during a crackdown since 2020 protests. read more

"Poland presented its position to the Belarusian side and we are focusing on the fight for these people, mostly at the international level," said Lukasz Jasina, Poland's Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson.

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It was not immediately possible to contact the Belarusian embassy for comment. Jasina said Belarus had made clear it regards Poland's stance as meddling.

Slaunikava was arrested in October at an airport as she returned from a holiday. Most of her trial was held behind closed doors, but she could be seen in a cage when the verdict was handed down.

Minsk has branded Belsat as extremist. Last month, a Belarusian court sentenced another Belsat journalist to eight years in jail for treason.

The Belarusian Vesna-96 rights group estimates Belarus is holding about 1,300 political prisoners, many arrested during protests against President Alexander Lukashenko who has been in power since 1994.

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Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska, Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrew Cawthorne

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