MINSK, Belarus: For the third consecutive day, Belarus police raided the homes and offices of journalists and human rights activists on Friday, in what opposition figures called a new crackdown on dissent.
Among the targets of police was the office of U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, along with those of 19 other organizations, according to the Belarus Association of Journalists, which described the police raids as "a massive attack by security forces on journalists across the country."
On its website, Radio Free Europe quoted witnesses who said police broke through the door of its office in Minsk, and reported that the homes of two of its journalists were raided.
Meanwhile, human rights groups said at least five people were detained on Friday, and 25 homes and offices had been searched.
The wife of journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich told Radio Free Europe that her husband had been handcuffed as he was led away by police, who also confiscated computers, phones and money.
Belarus officials have issued no comments about the Friday raids.
Belarus has closed a number of non-state media organizations, along with rights groups, following protests last August to protest the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994. Protesters claimed the elections were rigged.
On Wednesday and Thursday Belarus raided the offices of some 20 human rights, charitable, media and expert institutions, detaining more than 15 people.
Following the police raids this week, PEN America and other human rights organizations issued a statement describing the moves in Belarus as "flagrant action against civil society and independent media", and demanded the release of those arrested.
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