Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

EU demands immediate release of Byalyatski

Catherine Ashton and Stefan Füle demand the immediate and unconditional release of human rights activist Ales Byalyatski.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle have released a joint statement urging the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally free human rights activist Ales Byalyatski.

He is standing trial in Minsk now.

"We call on Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Byalyatski and to drop the charges against him and against his deputy Valyantsin Stefanovich," reads the statement sent to Interfax-Zapad news agency by the EU representative office in Minsk.

"We are seriously concerned about the detention and prosecution of internationally renowned Belarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski for alleged tax evasion," the statement notes.

The EU high representatives regard the trial as "a politically motivated pretext to target his important work to the benefit of victims of repression".