Germany on Friday slammed as a “disgrace” for the Belarus government an interview shown on state television with a journalist arrested after his plane was forced to land in Minsk.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert called Thursday’s broadcast with journalist and activist Roman Protasevich, confessing to calling for protests last year, “absolutely disgraceful and implausible”.
Seibert said Berlin “condemned in the strongest terms” Protasevich’s second apparently coerced media appearance since his detention, and accused Belarusian authorities of “mentally and possibly physically” pressuring him into speaking before the camera.
“That is a disgrace for the broadcaster showing (the interview) and for the Belarusian leadership which is once again showing its contempt for democracy and, it must be said, for humanity,” Seibert said.
He said Berlin’s thoughts were with Protasevich “and all the other citizens of Belarus who are being treated so inhumanely for their convictions and their peaceful fight for civil rights”.
Protasevich was arrested on May 23 along with his girlfriend Sofia Sapega when their Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was diverted and intercepted by a fighter jet.
Looking uncomfortable in the video, Protasevich — the co-founder and former editor of opposition Telegram channel Nexta, which galvanised anti-government demonstrations — also praised Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Friday dismissed the interview as the result of “torture”.
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