Reporters Without Borders is thankful that Ramazan Esergepov (Рамазан Есергепов), the editor of the weekly Alma- Ata Info, was finally released today, one day after completing a three-year sentence on a charge of collecting and disseminating classified information.
“We are very relieved that Esergepov is back with his family but he was not freed until he completed a sentence he should never have served,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The rejection of all his requests for early release on parole and the final prolongation of his detention by 24 hours are evidence of the way the judicial authorities persecuted him despite his poor health.”
Esergepov was arrested while hospitalized on 6 January 2009 after publishing an article headlined “Who really runs our country, the president or the KNB,” in which he accused the country’s security agency, the KNB, of influence trafficking. He was immediately jailed, given an unfair trial and received the three-year sentence on 8 August 2009. The prison authorities often prevented him from receiving visits and denied him access to the medical treatment he needed.
There was a steady decline in freedom of expression in Kazakhstan in 2011. Surveillance of the Internet increased, independent media were closed and a news blackout was imposed on a violent crackdown on protests by striking workers in December.
17.08.2011 Imprisoned journalist’s parole request again rejected
Imprisoned journalist Ramazan Esergepov’s request for release on parole was rejected yesterday for the fourth time by an appeal commission in Taraz prison, in southern Kazakhstan, although, under Kazakh law, a prisoner can be freed conditionally after serving a third of their sentence.
“The prison administration has again defied law and logic in order to keep Esergepov in detention,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His rights have repeatedly been flouted since his arrest in January 2009. This latest unjustified decision is yet further evidence that his detention is politically-motivated and that the persecution is not letting up just months before his scheduled release.”
According to his wife, Raushan Esergepova, the commission said it rejected his requested because he had “not corrected his bad behaviour.” His parole has already been refused on three previous occasions despite his health problems. He is due to complete his sentence in five months.
The former owner and editor of the weekly Alma-Ata Info, he was sentenced to three years in prison on 8 August 2009 on a charge of gathering and publishing information that was a state secret (articles 372 and 139 of the criminal code). He was arrested on 6 January 2009 after publishing an article implicating the National Security Committee (KNB) in influence-trafficking.
22.02.2011-Journalist kept in prison against the law
Reporters Without Borders criticised the government today for keeping journalist Ramazan Esergepov in prison in violation of the law and endangering his health. It was “a new attack on his rights” and showed he was being held for “political reasons,” it said.
Prison authorities refused for a third time, on 27 January this year, to free him despite his serious health problems and his good conduct while in prison. The law says a prisoner can be conditionally freed after serving a third of his sentence.
Esergepov, editor of Alma-Ata Info, was sentenced to three years in prison on 8 August 2009 for gathering news described as “state secrets” after a trial marred by irregularities.
The worldwide press freedom organisation said his rights to a fair trial, independent legal help and to health care and to receive visits from his family had been abused.
Officials at the 158/2 prison camp in the southern town of Taraz are firmly opposed to releasing him and have also twice refused requests for him to be moved to a jail closer to his family and where he can get proper health care..
The prison chief has criticised him for taking medicine and used it as a reason to keep him in jail. Esergepov sent a complaint about this to the court and regional prosecutor on 3 January this year but the letter did not arrive.