‘It’s not his words, it’s not his intonation of speech,’ Roman Protasevich says
The father of a detained Belarusian journalist said he believes his son was forced to admit guilt and that his nose looked broken in a new video.
Amid international outcry, the 26-year-old dissident journalist appeared in a video on Monday, claiming he was being treated well and was “confessing to having organised mass unrest” in the Belarusian capital.
But his father, Dzmitry Protasevich, said he believed the comments were forced and voiced fears for his welfare.
“It’s likely his nose is broken, because the shape of it has changed and there’s a lot of powder on it. All of the left side of his face has powder,” he told Reuters.
“It’s not his words, it’s not his intonation of speech. He is acting very reserved and you can see he is nervous.”
他加了: “And it’s not his pack of cigarettes on the table – he doesn’t smoke these. So I think he was forced.”
本周早些时候, the Belarusian opposition leader claimed there was a “high probability” that the 26-year-old journalist was being tortured during his detention.
His father added on Monday: “My son cannot admit to creating the mass disorders, because he just didn’t do any such thing.”
Belarus was rocked by a wave of protests following a disputed presidential election last summer won by Alexander Lukashenko.
Authorities cracked down hard on demonstrations and many opposition figures were driven into exile or put in prison.
Mr Protasevich co-founded Nexta, which was the main opposition platform during last year’s protests.
His social media feed from exile has been one of the last remaining independent outlets for news about the country since a mass crackdown on dissent last year.
The Lithuania-based blogger and his female companion, Sofia Sapega, were both taken into custody after Belarus diverted a Ryanair plane they were travelling on to its capital on Sunday in an action condemned by the European Union and the US.
Nato secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the forced landing of a passenger flight by Belarus amounted to state hijacking and called for both an urgent international investigation and the release of seized dissident journalist Roman Protasevich.
“This is a state hijacking and demonstrates how the regime in Minsk attacks basic democratic rights and cracks down on freedom of expression and independent media,” he said in a video statement on Tuesday, when he also welcomed European Union sanctions.
“There must be an urgent international investigation. And journalist Roman Protasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega must be immediately released,” 他说.
在星期一, the national leaders of the EU demanded their immediate release and an investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation into the incident.
They also agreed to impose more sanctions on Belarus, called on their airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace and authorised work to ban Belarusian airlines from European skies and airports, a spokesperson said.
“We are surprised that the destiny of one person means a lot, that it is seen as valuable to the European Union,” the journalist’s father told Reuters on Monday. “This is something that is lost in Belarus.”
He said he thought what had happened was “an act of revenge” and “total insanity”.
The UK has demanded Mr Protasevich’s release and condemned the actions of Belarusian authorities, who Dominic Raab said “arrested journalist Roman Protasevich on the basis of a ruse, having forced his flight to land in Minsk”.
The British foreign secretary also threatened Belarus with fresh sanctions over the move.
The UK – along with the US, EU and Canada – have already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on scores of Belarusian officials, including the country’s president, following the disputed August election.
The opposition claimed the vote was riddled with fraud, while Mr Lukashenko – who has been in power for more than 20 年 – has denied vote-rigging allegations.