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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Journalist Details Jail In Belarus

MINSK, Belarus -- A jailed reporter for Russian television has smuggled a letter to a Belarussian newspaper saying that guards purposely humiliated prisoners in an overcrowded prison.


Pavel Sheremet and his cameraman, both Belarussian citizens working for Russia's ORT television, were arrested in July for illegally crossing Belarus' border with Lithuania while reporting on the lack of controls along the frontier.


The cameraman was later freed, but Sheremet was remanded to a jail in the city of Grodno to await trial.


The letter, published on the front page of the Belarusskaya Delovaya Gazeta, said the Grodno prison was one of the harshest in the country, and he shares a four-man cell with five people.


"One of us has to sleep on the floor," he said.


He said he had no fear from other prisoners, but was afraid of the guards "because they hate you, and for them a person under investigation is already a criminal they can and must humiliate.''


The letter was brought to the newspaper on Friday by a man who refused to say how he got it. An editor said he immediately recognized the handwriting of Sheremet, who was a deputy at the newspaper before joining ORT.


The case has strained relations between Russia and Belarus, which signed a union treaty in May.