American Detained Over VoIP in Belarus

In Belarus, an employee of the Soros Foundation Open Society Institute was detained for causing damage to the country’s telecommunications providers and for “working as an entrepreneur without registration or permission. Interfax reports: U.S. citizen suspected of causing $100,000 damage in Belarus

U.S. citizen Ilya Mafter, who was detained in Belarus, is believed to have caused about $100,000 in damage to the country’s communications providers, sources in the State Security Committee’s information center told Interfax on Tuesday.

The damage to the communications providers? Possibly routing around them by using VoIP. Ethan Zuckerman: Arrest over VOIP in Belarus

I find myself wondering whether his alleged fraud of VELCOM (the national cellphone company) was his use of Skype to make phonecalls home, or to his office. Ilya is a Skype fan, and I can imagine how the twisted logic of the Belarusian KGB could turn demonstrating Skype to a Belarusian NGO into “damaging” the national infrastructure, by showing people how to avoid absurd call charges.