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The World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum express serious concern at the death of journalist Askhat Sharipzhanov

Interior Minister Zautbek Turisbekov
Almaty, Kazakhstan
C/o Permanent Representative to UN

22 July 2004

Dear Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 100 countries, to express our serious concern at the death of journalist Askhat Sharipzhanov.

According to reports, Mr Sharipzhanov, a journalist with the online publication Navigator, was knocked down by a car on 16 July after he left his office. He died of a brain haemorrhage on 20 July in an Almaty hospital.

On the afternoon of 16 July, Mr Sharipzhanov had reportedly interviewed Altynbek Sarsenbayev, the new information minister and a reformist, as well as Zamanbek Nurkadilov, a key opposition figure. Navigator editor-in-chief Yuri Mizinov has been quoted as saying he believed that the journalist may have been targeted because of his work. He claimed that the transcripts of some interviews conducted on the day of his death had disappeared from Mr Sharipzhanov's computer, as had his tape recorder. Mr Mizinov said he doubted the official version that the death was an accident.

We respectfully call on you to ensure that a thorough and open investigation into the incident is carried out to clear up doubts about Mr Sharipzhanov's death. We ask that you keep us informed of developments in the investigation.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Seok Hyun Hong
World Association of Newspapers

George Brock
World Editors Forum

cc: Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations
Mr Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General, UNESCO

July 26, 2004.

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