Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2010
Ramazan Yesergepov, Alma-Ata Info
Imprisoned: January 7, 2009
In January 2009, two months after Yesergepov published two internal memos from the KNB, the Kazakh security service, the agency arrested the ailing editor at an Almaty hospital and transported him to a detention facility in the southern city of Taraz.
The KNB memos, published in Yesergepov's newspaper Alma-Ata Info, showed high-ranking agents conspiring to influence a prosecutor and a judge in a tax-evasion case; Yesergepov also wrote a commentary on the contents of the memo.
The KNB declared the memos classified and charged Yesergepov with "collecting state secrets." Authorities tried him behind closed doors, denied him a defense lawyer of his choosing, and barred access to his own case file.
In August 2009, a Taraz City Court judge sentenced Yesergepov to three years in prison. Raushan Yesergepova, the journalist's wife, told CPJ that the state-appointed defense lawyer did not attend Yesergepov's final hearing. Subsequent appeals – which Yesergepov prepared himself – were denied, as were appeals for early release and transfer to a lower-security facility.
During a June fact-finding mission to Almaty, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova tried to visit Yesergepov in prison. Initially, Kazakh authorities approved the visit, but officials with the local penitentiary service revoked the approval the day Ognianova traveled to the prison colony in Taraz.
A CPJ delegation advocated on behalf of Yesergepov in an October meeting with Kazakh Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, chairman of the permanent council of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe. In the meeting, at OSCE headquarters in Vienna, Ognianova and CPJ Senior Adviser Jean-Paul Marthoz detailed the violations of Yesergepov's rights to a fair trial and sought his release.
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