Kazakhstan: Editor sentenced to three years in prison

English PEN protests the three-year prison sentence handed down to editor Ramazan Yesergepov for ‘illegally obtaining and divulging state secrets’. We consider his conviction to be a breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.


Ramazan Yesergepov (Esergepov), owner and editor-in-chief the Almaty-based independent weekly Alma-Ata Info, was sentenced to three years in prison by a Kazakhstani court on 8 August 2009, after spending seven months in detention. He was arrested on 6 January 2009 by armed and masked security officers while he was being treated for hypertension at the Cardiology Institute in Almaty.


The charges against the editor stem from an article published on 21 November 2008 entitled ‘Who rules the Country – The President or the Committee for National Security (CNS)?’ which is said to deal with a tax fraud allegation involving a local prosecutor and a judge. Since December 2008, Alma Ata Info, has been investigated for the disclosure of two leaked memos which published alongside the cited article.

 

According to the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, during the trial Yesergepov maintained his innocence and stated that the facts in his article were of public interest. 

 

Yesergepov’s verdict was announced behind closed doors, without the presence of journalists, and according to press reports a former Supreme Court Judge stated that a number of norms were contravened during the trial and that, as a consequence,  Yesergepov should be retried. The sentence was based in articles 172 and 339 of the Kazakh Criminal Code. 

 

Kazakhstan is a participant state in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and in 2010 it will assume its chairmanship. Therefore, considering that the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms is one of the commitments assumed by all OSCE participant states, the imposition of the conviction against Ramazan Yesergepov and the general situation of the right to freedom of expression in Kazakhstan, would appear to be in breach of its commitment to the OSCE.

 

For the previous WiPC alert on Ramazan Yesergepov, please see:
http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.cfm?objectid=7069B013-3048-676E-2667092E7BE6F038

 

For the BBC’s country profile on Kazakhstan:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1298071.stm 

 

For the OSCE’s page, see:
http://www.osce.org/
 
Recommended Actions
 
Minimum action: send one appeal to one or more of the government addresses below.
 
Further Action: write a similar appeal to the Kazakh Ambassador in the UK country or send him a copy of your letter to Kazakhstan asking him to comment on your concerns.

 
Send appeals:

 

• Protesting the three-year prison sentence given to Ramazan Yesergepov, owner and editor-in-chief the Almaty-based independent weekly Alma-Ata Info;
• Calling for his immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kazakhstan is a signatory;
• Calling on the Kazakh authorities to unequivocally condemn all attacks on the independent press and to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of journalists and freedom of expression.

 

Appeals to:

 

Mr Nursultan Abish-uly Nazarbayev
President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Office of the President
11 Mira Street
Astana 473000
Kazakhstan

 

Mr Amanzhol Zhankuliyev
Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
16, Chemin du Prunier
Case postale 6
1218 Grand-Saconnex
Geneva
Switzerland
Tel: 41 22 7886600
Fax: 41 22 7886602
E-mail: mission.kazakstan@ties.itu.int

 

His Excellency Mr Kairat Abusseitov
Embassy of Kazakhstan
33 Thurloe Square
London
SW7 2SD
london@kazembassy.org.uk

 

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/kazakhstaneditorsentencedtothreeyearsinprison/

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