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Dine Welcomes Release of RFE/RL Journalist

(Washington, DC–October 18, 2002) RFE/RL President Thomas A Dine welcomed the release today from a prison in Bamberg, Germany of RFE/RL Belarusian Service journalist Natalia Sudliankova.

“We are glad that Natalia has finally been released and can now be reunited with her family in Prague,” Dine said, adding that “Clearly, the German authorities have recognized the baseless nature of the charges made against Natalia, and are no longer willing to play a role in the settling of political scores by the undemocratic regime of Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.”

Sudliankova, an editor for RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service, was detained on October 7 at the Czech-German border on the basis of an international criminal warrant filed by the government of Belarus. A citizen of Belarus and a longtime political activist opposed to the Lukashenka regime, Sudliankova fled her country with her family in 1999 and was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic. A Czech court in January, 2002 rejected an extradition request by the Minsk government, finding the charges made against Sudliankova to be without merit. Those charges were not withdrawn, however, and her name remained on an Interpol list of wanted criminals. Sudliankova was arrested during her first attempt to travel outside of the Czech Republic since being granted political asylum.