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Editor gets 18 months in jail for reporting on Kazakh bank

A man walks past a Kazkommertsbank (KKB) sign at its headquarters in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 5 May 2016
A man walks past a Kazkommertsbank (KKB) sign at its headquarters in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 5 May 2016

REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 24 May 2016.

In response to the court conviction and imprisonment of Guzyal Baidalinova, editor of an independent online newspaper in Kazakhstan, Freedom House issued the following statement:

"Coming days after nationwide protests against the proposed land reform, and the arrest of the protest organizers last week, the verdict against Guzyal Baidalinova on spurious charges of libel is part of the Kazakhstan government's crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression," said Robert Herman, vice president for emergency assistance programs and multilateral initiatives. "The international community should forcefully condemn government attacks on independent media and civil society."

Background:

Guzyal Baidalinova is the head of Nakanune.kz, one of the country's largest independent media outlets. In December of 2015, Baidalinova was arrested and Nakanune.kz's offices were searched in response to a libel suit filed by Kazkommertsbank, accusing her and her website of spreading false information to purposefully hurt the institution. On May 23, a court found Baidalinova guilty and sentenced her to 18 months imprisonment and a fine of 144 million tenge.

Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016 , Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2015, and receives a democracy score of 6.61 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2016.

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Condenan a 30 años de prisión al asesino del periodista Danilo López https://t.co/EgrNmUYKzM @ObserCerigua… https://t.co/LxTcH4EcEp