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Criminal case against Kaktus.media - infringement on freedom of speech

The authorities of Kyrgyzstan should immediately drop the criminal case on ‘war propaganda’ against the independent news agency Kaktus.media and fully respect, protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International said in a statement.

«The case against Kaktus.media is absurd and dangerous. Regardless of whether it will result in a guilty verdict or not, the very fact that the independent media outlet is being prosecuted undermines the right to receive and disseminate information in the republic. Such attacks on the free media are simply unacceptable. Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic should be able to get acquainted with different points of view, including on such issues as state security and armed conflicts, even if the publication offends, annoys or is disputed by the authorities,» the Amnesty International Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Marie Struthers said.

The criminal case against Kaktus.media was initiated under Article 407 «Propaganda of war, that is, dissemination of views, ideas or appeals in any form with the aim of causing aggression of one country against another or unleashing a military conflict» of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic on February 1 in connection with republishing of an article from the Tajik information portal Asia Plus.

«The publication was about the armed clash on one of the sections of the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which occurred on January 27, and presented the point of view of the Tajik side. As far as Amnesty International is aware, the news item did not contain calls for violence, but claimed that the first shots were fired from the side of the Kyrgyz Republic, which the authorities of the republic categorically reject,» the international human rights organization notes.

Several Kaktus.media journalists have already been summoned to the prosecutor’s office for questioning in connection with this criminal case. The topic of the conversations remains unknown, as the interrogated persons signed a non-disclosure agreement, which, according to Amnesty International, is also of concern.

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