OSCE freedom of media rep. says Lapshin will face ‘grave punishment’ if extradited to Baku

By Asbarez | Friday, 27 January 2017

Alexander Lapshin

Alexander Lapshin

YEREVAN—The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović stated on Friday that the detained Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin will face “grave punishment” if Belarus follows through with his extradition to Azerbaijan, read a press statement by the Armenian Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman).

Her statement was in response to Armenian Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan’s January 18 statement calling Lapshin’s arrest a “threat to freedom of expression.”

“I believe that his arrest is a serious threat to freedom of speech and human rights. The charges against Lapshin run contrary to the case-law of the European courts,” said Tatoyan. “I have been actively working with the representatives of international organizations for the release of Lapshin. We have analyzed all related legal issues.”

Mijatović said she has applied to Belarus’s Permanent Representative of the OSCE, and has sent a letter to the Belarus’s Foreign Minister expressing her concerns regarding Lapshin’s case. In her letters, she noted that Lapshin will face unfair treatment as vengeance against his blog for writing about human rights issues of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic conflict.

“Mijatović has assured the Armenian Ombudsman that she has applied to the Belarussian authorities, urging them to pay special attention to the case so that Lapshin’s right of lawful journalistic activity is not restricted,” the press statement concluded.

Although Lapshin had appealed to the Belarusian Prosecutor’s Office to rescind their decision to extradite him, the appeal was rejected by the Minsk Court on January 26.

Statements calling for Lapshin’s release have been issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Russian Foreign Ministry, Israel, and the Artsakh Foreign Ministry.