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Watchdog criticizes media intimidation in Belarus

A media watchdog is criticizing the intimidation of journalists in authoritarian Belarus.

Last month, four independent journalists said the state security service interrogated them and seized their computers and documents as part of an investigation into a libel suit. They said their private electronic correspondence also was scanned.

Dunja Mijatovic, media freedom representative at the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe, said in a letter to Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov that such intimidation "exerts a chilling effect" on the country's already weakened investigative journalism.

In exerpts of the letter made public Monday, Mijatovic urged authorities in Minsk to "vigorously investigate cases of harassment."