Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

EP President condemns sentencing of Byalyatski

Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament, condemns the sentencing of human rights activist Ales Byalyatski and calls on the Belarusian authorities to release him.

"I condemn the sentencing to four and half years in prison of Ales Byalyatski. The European Parliament is highly concerned about the unjustified prosecution and sentencing of Ales Byalyatski for alleged tax evasion in Belarus," Interfax-Zapad news agency quotes the statement received from the EU representative office in Minsk.

As noted by Buzek, the European Parliament "considers the charges against Ales Byalyatski in the trial as politically motivated and unjustified". "Under Mr Byalyatski's leadership, the Viasna Center that he set up has defended and assisted thousands of victims of repression in Belarus and I commend the work of the center", Buzek said.

"We call on Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Byalyatski and for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners still in custody and for all charges against them to be dropped," the EP President said.