Italy's foreign minster Luigi Di Maio has deplored the deportation from Belarus at the weekend of several foreign journalists and the cancelled accreditation of over a dozen reporters after three weeks of massive protests against the country's authoritarian president.
"Minister Di Maio expresses his condemnation and concern about the withdrawal of accreditation and the expulsion of many foreign journalists who witnessed the demonstrations taking place in Belarus in recent weeks," Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
"It is necessary to restore respect for press freedom as soon as possible and allow independent journalists to continue to follow the events in Belarus," the statement underlined.
Belarusian authorities withdrew the accreditation of 17 reporters on Saturday, most of them Belarusian citizens who had been reporting for foreign media outlets including two journalists with the BBC's Russian service. Two Moscow-based journalists from the Associated Press and two from Germany's ARD television network who were covering the recent protests were deported to Russia, the outlets said.
Protests in Belarus began after polls on 9 August that officials said had returned president Alexander Lukashenko to a sixth term in office after he won 80% of the vote.