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Criminal charges pressed against journalist and editor over articles criticising Member of Parliament

(Globe International/IFEX) - Criminal charges were pressed against B. Tsognemekh, a reporter for the daily newspaper "Zuuni Medee", on 9 April 2007 and B. Ganbold, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, on 11 May 2007 pursuant to a complaint by Member of Parliament Ch. Ulaan.

B. Tsognemekh has been charged under Criminal Code Article 110.1 (insult - imprisonment for a term of up to three months) and Article 111.2 (libel - imprisonment for a term of up to six months).

B. Tsognemekh's articles in the 22 September 2006, 5 February 2007 and 5 March 2007 issues of "Zuuni Medee" featured stories about Ch. Ulaan's alleged abuse of power and receipt of bribes. The articles' description of the MP as "shameless" was considered by a group of experts to be an "insult".

According to the journalist, "I didn't write about Ch. Ulaan for personal interest. I was instructed to write those articles by our newspaper's governing board under the headline 'State Generated Billionnaire'. I don't know Ch. Ulaan personally. While writing my articles, I didn't mean to libel or insult him. I was just fulfilling my professional duty as a journalist."

Globe International is drafting a protest letter to be sent to MP Ch. Ulaan. The Zorig Foundation, the Democratic Party, the Mongolian Journalists Union and others have voiced their opposition to the criminal charges against B. Tsognemekh.

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