VILNIUS, Lithuania, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Washington calls on Belarus to release all political prisoners unconditionally, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said from Lithuania.
After a court in Belarus sentenced human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski to 4 1/2 years in prison on tax evasion charges last month, a panel of human rights officials at the United Nations warned the country was fomenting a culture of fear.
Clinton, during meetings with human rights delegates in Lithuania, called on Minsk to release political prisoners held by the government.
"We continue to demand the unconditional release of all political prisoners," she said in a statement. "By our count, there are more than 50 individuals still in prison or under restrictive release and I want to assure you that the United States will continue working for their freedom."
Hundreds of challengers to President Alexander Lukashenko were rounded up following elections in December 2010. One of Lukashenko's opponents, Andrei Sannikov, was reported missing from a penal colony last month.
Sannikov was one of the candidates in the 2010 presidential elections in Belarus.