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U.S. Calls For Immediate Release Of Belarus Rights Activist

Ales Byalyatski
The United States has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ales Byalyatski, a prominent Belarusian human rights activist who has been detained on tax evasion charges.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner on August 8 described Byalyatski's arrest as the latest in a series of rights violations by the government of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The U.S. spokesman said the arrest marks what he called "another unfortunate sign of Belarus's self-isolation and violation of international standards on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law."

Vyasna, the human rights group headed by Byalyatski, has denounced his arrest as political.

The group says he was arrested on August 4 after financial police searched his apartment and holiday home and Vyasna's office.

Vyasna has been active in reporting on the police crackdown on peaceful antigovernment protests in Belarus.

The OSCE, the pan-European rights watchdog, the head of the European Parliament, and the UN high commissioner for human rights have also expressed concerns about Byalyatski's detention.

compiled from agency reports