Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

United States welcomes Byalyatskis release

Naviny.by / BelaPAN

The United States welcomes the early release of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski as a positive development, Jen Psaki, spokesman for the US Department of State, said on June 21.

She recalled that Mr. Byalyatski had received the State Department's 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award for his work advocating for victims of political repression and their families in Belarus.

We reiterate our call for the Government of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release all the political prisoners who remain in detention and restore their political rights, said Ms. Psaki.

These actions would pave the way for normalization of relations between the United States and Belarus. We stand with the people of Belarus and reaffirm our readiness to help them build a democratic, prosperous, and truly independent European state.

Mr. Byalyatski, the 51-year-old leader of the Vyasna Human Rights Center, was released on June 21 under an amnesty law after spending 1,050 days behind bars.

On November 24, 2011, he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on a charge of large-scale tax evasion. The charge stemmed from information about his bank accounts abroad, which was thoughtlessly provided by authorities in Lithuania and Poland under interstate legal assistance agreements. During his trial, Mr. Byalyatski insisted that the money transferred by various foundations to his bank accounts abroad had been intended to finance Vyasnas activities and therefore could not be viewed as his income subject to taxation.

He served his prison sentence in a correctional institution in Babruysk, Mahilyow region.