New York, July 18, 2012--Belarusian security agents should immediately release a website editor who has been jailed for publishing photographs of teddy bears, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The KGB, the nation's security service, is holding Anton Suryapin for alleged complicity in an illegal border crossing--a charge that can bring up to seven years in prison--after the editor ran photos of the stuffed animals, which were reportedly dropped from the skies over Minsk as part of a publicity stunt.
"Are Belarusian security agents worried that teddy bears are engaged in an illegal border crossing? It would be hard to keep a straight face about these absurd charges were it not for the fact that Anton Suryapin is sitting in jail," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "We call on authorities to immediately release Suryapin and drop these senseless criminal charges against him."