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Editor sentenced to three years' imprisonment

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - On 8 August 2009, the editor-in-chief of the "Alma-ata Info" newspaper, Ramazan Yesergepov, was sentenced in a Taraz court to three years' imprisonment for "illegally obtaining and divulging state secrets".

The judicial session was closed to the public and journalists received news of the sentence in a press release.

Yesergepov was found guilty under articles 172 p.1 and 339 p.2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan and sentenced to three years' imprisonment in a standard regime penal colony. He is not permitted to work for two years.

The charges against Yesergepov stem from an article entitled, "Who rules our country: the president or the Committee of National Security (CNS)?" published in "Alma-ata Info" on 21 November 2008. The article contained a fragment of official correspondence between two CNS officials, the Zhambyl regional department head and CNS chairman Amangeldy Shabdarbayev. As a result of the letter, a criminal investigation was opened against the company "Taraz" and its founder, Sultan Makhmadov. Makhmadov tried to meet with the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, with the goal of influencing the investigation.

Throughout the trial, Yesergepov maintained his innocence and insisted that the article stated facts that were of interest to the public and concerned human rights. Independent experts also concluded that no state secrets were revealed in the documents.

Kazakh citizens defended Yesergepov during the investigation and legal proceedings. They stated that the criminal prosecution of Yesergepov was politically motivated and its goal was to deter the work of journalists in the future.

Yesergepov will appeal the verdict.

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