The Belarusian government, facing weeks of protests after a controversial presidential election, on Saturday revoked the credentials of some journalists working for foreign media, news outlets and a journalists’ association.
“I call on the Belarusian authorities to reverse these measures without delay,” Le Drian said in a statement.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz, responding to a Reuters question on Sunday, did not directly respond to criticism from Western governments and affected media that the move to revoke accreditations was an attempt by the Belarusian government to stifle journalism and to cover protests in a balanced way.
“We currently have over 300 foreign journalists covering all the events,” he said in a text message. Glaz declined to comment further.
Radio Liberty, in a report on its website Saturday, quoted the Foreign Office as saying the decision to revoke the accreditations was made for security reasons.
In comments at a government meeting on July 23, President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to expel foreign journalists, accusing them of inciting protests against him ahead of the August 9 elections.
On Saturday, the Belarusian Association of Journalists identified 17 journalists who it said had had their credentials revoked, then added two people to make a total of 19, citing Belarusian media outlet Tut.by. Reuters has not independently confirmed the full tally.
The journalists included a video reporter and a photographer from Reuters, as well as journalists from the French news agency AFP and the BBC, their organizations said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in a Twitter message on Sunday: “Attempts by Belarusian authorities to silence local and international media by revoking accreditation and other forms of intimidation are completely unacceptable.”
“As a member of #OSCE, Belarus is bound to respect media freedom,” added Linde, who will take over the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe next year.
The OSCE monitors media developments in its participating States to detect violations of freedom of expression and has a mandate to protect and promote media freedom in the 57 participating States, it says on its website Web.
Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva in Paris and Maria Kisdomova in Moscow; Editing by Frances Kerry
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