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Belarus: Court Rejects Journalist's Appeal Of Libel Conviction

Minsk, 15 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A court in Belarus today rejected an appeal by a journalist sentenced to two years of internal exile for libeling President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The journalist, Viktar Ivashkevich, said the ruling is a form of political revenge and violates freedom of speech. His lawyer said they intend to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Ivashkevich was sentenced last month in connection with an article he wrote alleging that Lukashenka was involved in illegal arms sales. The article in the independent newspaper "Rabochy" was due to be published during last September's presidential election campaign, but authorities seized all copies of the newspaper before they reached the public.

Two other Belarusian journalists were sentenced to internal exile in June on charges of libeling the president.