Belarusian opposition leader Alexander Lukashenko has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Sergei Tikhanovsky was convicted of conspiracy to commit atrocities in connection with a series of punishments. He planned to challenge Mr Lukashenko in the 2020 presidential election, but was taken into custody before voting.
His wife Svetlana Tikhanovskaya married Mr. Lukashenko, who claimed victory in the by-election.
He said he had won the August election, but was forced to exile along with his children the next day for fear of his own safety. He is the latest opposition figure to be imprisoned in Belarus after a brutal attack on dissenting voices against Alexander Lukashenko’s election victory.
All his major opponents were once arrested or forced to flee the country.
Mr Lukaszenko has been in charge of Belarus since 1994 but his re-election as president last year was considered illegal and Western countries do not recognize it.
He quelled protests last month when politicians and opposition activists were arrested and jailed, with some allegedly being beaten up and tortured.
On Tuesday, Ms Sergei Tikhanovsky questioned the legality of her husband’s trial and told the BBC that his sentence “resembles Mr Lukaszenko’s” revenge.
The US and Germany have also expressed outrage over Sergei Tikhanovsky decisions and other controversial figures.
Ms. Sergei Tikhanovsky wrote in a tweet: “With political prisoners hiding in closed cases, they hope they continue to be tortured peacefully. But the whole world is watching. We will not give up.”
Before the ruling, he said he would continue to “protect the person I love” in a Twitter video showing pictures of children in the background.
The 39-year-old was a teacher, a stay-at-home mother until Belarus plunged into political turmoil and became a symbol of democracy.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock said she was shocked by Tuesday’s “outrageous” decisions as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the European Union condemned the oppression of Belarus.
Tikhanovsky is now one of hundreds of political prisoners believed to be in Belarusian prisons. They include protest organizer Maria Kolesnikova, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit atrocities and sentenced in September to 11 years in prison.
Another opposition leader and former bank manager, Victor Babriko, was sentenced in July to 14 years in prison for fraud.
“We don’t have any political charges against him,” Mr Lukashenko said. “We have no charges against him. These are the people who broke the law of Belarus.”
Without providing evidence, he suggested that Ms Kolesnikova was a Western “agent” and said she had been arrested for “breaking the law”.
The split has seriously strained relations between Belarus and the European Union, which has imposed severe sanctions on the country. The European Union has always accused Belarus of creating a crisis for migrants on its eastern border in retaliation for sanctions.
Source: BBC News