US, Belarus trade charges over jailed American lawyer

US, Belarus trade charges over jailed American lawyerMinsk - Belarus and the United States on Friday traded accusations over an American lawyer jailed for more than three months in a KGB prison.

Emmanuel Zeltser, a US national and head of a human rights NGO, was arrested by Belarusian police in mid-March on narcotics trafficking charges.

Doctors at a Minsk jail operated by the Belarusian KGB are refusing to provide Zeltser medicine and are placing his life in danger, US diplomats said.

Belarusian prosecutors have charged that drugs Zeltser had in his possession at the time of his March 12 arrest were illegal, and as evidence cannot be handed over to a suspect.

Prison officials allowed an independent New York physician to check Zeltser's health earlier this week, in response to a US embassy request.

The check-up showed Zeltser suffering from low blood pressure, ulcers, and a heart condition worsened by prison manager's unwillingness to allow Zetser modern medicines, US embassy officials said.

Belarus' KGB reacted sharply to the US allegations, saying the doctor's visit had been "unprecedented in Belarusian prison history," as KBG detainees by law have no right to visits by outside medical personnel.

The dispute over Zeltser and his detention is only the latest in years of conflicts between the US and Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko.

US offcials have long criticised Lukashenko's authoritarian regime, and called the former collective farm boss "Europe's last dictator."

Lukashenko for his part has accused the US of plotting his overthow by funding groups opposed to his rulership.(dpa)