European Federation of Journalists

Serbia: journalist Andrey Gniot must not be extradited to Belarus

Credits: Veran Matić.

Serbian authorities should not extradite Belarusian journalist Andrey Gniot to face criminal charges in Belarus and release him immediately. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), its affiliates in Serbia (UNS, NUNS, Sinos and Nezavisnost) and several journalists’ organisations in Serbia (Association of Independent Electronic Media, Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina) call on the Serbian Minister of Justice, Maja Popović, to oppose his extradition.

Serbian authorities detained Gniot upon his arrival in the country on October 30, 2023, based on a September 21 Interpol arrest warrant issued by the Belarusian Interpol bureau, for alleged tax evasion charges. In December 2023, the High Court in Belgrade ruled that the conditions for Gniot’s extradition to Belarus were met. On 12 March 2024, after appeal, the decision was overturned and the case was sent for review.

Despite an international appeal launched in May by the MFRR coalition, on 13 June 2024, on retrial, the High Court in Belgrade ruled to extradite Andrey Gniot.

Andrey Gniot is a Belarusian journalist and co-founder of the “Free Association of Athletes SOS BY”, considered in Belarus as an “extremist organization”. If the journalist is extradited to Belarus, he could potentially face additional charges for creating or participating in an extremist group, which carries up to 10 years in prison, while a tax evasion charge carries up to seven years imprisonment, according to the Belarusian criminal code.

“It is clear that the charges against Andrey Gniot are politically motivated,” said EFJ President Maja Sever. “Taking into account the ongoing human rights violations in Belarus, including torture and unfair trials, we strongly call on the Serbian Minister of Justice Maja Popović to immediately cease the extradition process”.

Together with the EFJ, the journalists’ organisations in Serbia call on the government to provide full protection to Andrey Gniot and to ensure his safety and freedom.

Read the alert co-signed by CPJ and the EFJ on the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists.