Independent journalist charged with criminal
release of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York
July 16, 2002
latest instance of Kazakhstan's official harassment of independent
and opposition journalists, a prominent journalist has been charged
with defaming Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Duvanov, who writes for several Web sites financed by Kazakhstan's
political opposition, was summoned to the Almaty office of the
National Security Committee (KNB, successor to the KGB) on the
morning of July 9, according to international and Kazakh news
journalist was informed that a criminal case was being brought
against him by the General Prosecutor's Office for "infringing the
honor and dignity of the president." Under Article 318 of the Kazakh
Criminal Code, the charge carries a hefty fine or a maximum
three-year prison sentence.
charges stem from a May 6, 2002, article titled, "Silence of the
Lambs," which was published on the opposition Web site,
article repeats allegations published by other media outlets,
including some in the United States, which claim that Nazarbayev and
his associates were attempting to cover up illegal profits from oil
deals and question the legality of the president's actions in
diverting US$1 billion to a Swiss bank account in 1996.
Following the July 9 interrogation, investigators searched Duvanov's
apartment and office and confiscated two computer hard drives, along
with several articles and other documentation.
11, the journalist was summoned to the KNB office in Almaty for a
second interrogation, which lasted nearly four hours.
"Criminal defamation is all too often used as a weapon to muzzle
independent media outlets in Kazakhstan," said CPJ executive
director Ann Cooper. "Journalists should never be threatened with
jail for their work. We call on the Kazakh authorities to cease
harassing Duvanov immediately and to abolish Article 318."
information about press conditions in Kazakhstan, please visit our
Web site at <www.cpj.org>.
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