Search paralyzes work of BelaPAN

An hours-long search paralyzed the work of BelaPAN’s editorial office on Tuesday.

Photo by belapan.com

The search was part on an investigation that was launched after the Belarusian government’s news agency BelTA had complained about the use of its information by unauthorized people.

AMAP (special-task police) officers did not let anyone into the BelaPAN office during the search, which was being conducted by officers of the Investigative Committee of Belarus. Three BelaPAN staff workers were inside the office, but they could not be reached by phone.

The search started at about 8:30 a.m., but police arrived at the office at 7 a.m.

The Investigative Committee announced on Tuesday morning that criminal proceedings had been instituted under Part Two of the Criminal Code’s Article 349, which penalizes “unauthorized access to computer information.” 

The Investigative Committee said that the unauthorized use of BelTA’s paid information services had caused damage to the news agency and “undermined its business reputation.” 

Also in the morning, police arrested BelaPAN staff writer Tanya Korovenkova as a suspect in the case.

Her home and her family’s summer house were searched and then she was told that she would be detained for 78 hours.

BelaPAN Chief Editor Iryna Lewshyna described the accusations against Ms. Korovenkova as absurd. She pointed out that there was no need to try to obtain access to BelTA’s paid services because there was free access to BelTA’s online news reports and when BelaPAN used them in its reports, it always inserted a hyperlink to the source of the information, as required by BelTA.

Also on Tuesday, the Investigative Committee searched the editorial office of TutBy Media, the owner of the news website tut. by., and Maryna Zolatava, editor in chief of tut.by, and two tut.by reporters, Hanna Yarmachonak and Dzmitry Bobryk, were arrested.