June 04, 2021
MINSK—Roman Protasevich, a detained journalist from Belarus, has admitted to attempting to topple the government.
In an interview broadcast on the state TV channel, he said that he had criticized President Lukashenko in the past, but now he admitted his mistake. In a tearful appearance, the journalist also praised the Belarus president and his government. On the occasion, marks were visible on his wrists.
Allegedly, the journalist was tortured and forced to confess, as per some claims. While talking to the media, his father said that it pained him a lot to watch the interview. "I know my son very well, and I believe that he would never say such things,” his father said, adding that “they broke him and forced him to say what was needed.”
Protasevich, 26, was put on a list of "individuals involved in terrorist activity" by the Belarus authorities. His recent interview was the third appearance on state television since he was detained. In his earlier interview, he was allegedly forced to say there was no use in the opposition calling for further street protests.
The charge of causing mass unrest can be punished by up to 15 years in jail. But terrorism offenses in Belarus carry higher sentences, including the death penalty.
Protasevich was arrested along with his girlfriend last month after his flight to Lithuania was diverted. He was also the editor for managing an opposition Nexta channel on the Telegram messaging app.
At the end of the interview, the journalist burst into tears and said he hoped to marry and have children one day.
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