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Taken Question
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 10, 2008
Question Taken at December 10, 2008 Daily Press Briefing

Update on the Status of Emanuel Zeltser

Question: Please provide an update on the status of Emanuel Zeltser. When was he last visited by U.S. Embassy officials?

Answer: The well-being of American citizens abroad is the top priority for the Department of State. The U.S. Embassy in Minsk and the Department of State will continue to provide full consular services to Emanuel Zeltser as long as he remains imprisoned in Belarus.

Mr. Zeltser was last visited by a U.S. Embassy official on November 19, after his transfer to a prison in Mogilev, 2.5 hours by car from Minsk, to serve the remainder of his sentence.

The prison doctor reported the Mr. Zeltser's health was "satisfactory," even though he arrived with high blood pressure and was placed immediately into the prison medical unit where he remains. Mr. Zeltser continues to complain of chronic back and leg pain and expresses extreme concern about his high blood pressure.

The U.S. Embassy requested permission for Mr. Zeltser to be treated in a public hospital and examined by an independent doctor. Both requests were denied by Belarusian authorities on the premise that all necessary resources, including medication, are available for Mr. Zeltser's medical care. We do not agree with this assessment. During our November visit, the prison doctor requested that we help procure six additional medications for Mr. Zeltser, which we have done with the assistance of his lawyer.

In the interest of Mr. Zeltser's immediate welfare and his need for lifesaving medical care, we continue to strongly urge the Belarusian authorities to release Mr. Zeltser on humanitarian grounds before this situation takes an irrevocable turn.


Released on December 10, 2008

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