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Diplomatic missions of EU countries make statement on media situation in KR

The European Union Delegation to Kyrgyzstan, the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden express their concern about the extensive searches and confiscation of private property of independent media offices and the detention of journalists in Kyrgyzstan. The joint statement of the diplomatic missions says.

As noted, expressing different opinions and engaging in independent journalistic activities are main characteristics of exercising universal human rights and freedom of expression.

The European Union Delegation to Kyrgyzstan and the Embassies of EU countries call on the Kyrgyz authorities to uphold their international human rights obligations and commitments and to protect freedom of expression and the integrity of journalists and media outlets, in order to allow them to carry out their professional activities.

«At the same time, it should be ensured that investigations are conducted in line with legal provisions, and in particular that lawyers are present,» the statement says.

Employees of the State Committee for National Security came to the office of 24.kg news agency on January 16 at about 11 a.m. General Director Asel Otorbaeva, Editors-in-Chief Anton Lymar and Makhinur Niyazova were taken for interrogation. Equipment and personal mobile phones of employees were confiscated. The SCNS said that the search at 24.kg news agency was conducted as part of a criminal case under the article «Propaganda of War» of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.

In addition, on January 16, the office of Temirov Live was searched and editorial equipment was confiscated. The police searched homes and detained 11 current and former employees of the media outlet.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement announcing that, as a result of «forensic linguistic examination» of content found on the social media pages of Temirov Live and Ait Ait Dese on December 30, criminal proceedings had been initiated against them under article 278, part 3 of the Criminal Code for «calling for riots.»

All detainees were arrested until the end of investigation by court decision.

Makhabat Tazhibek kyzy, Sapar Akunbekov, Azamat Ishenbekov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, Aktilek Kaparov, Tynystan Asypbekov, Maksat Tazhibek uulu, Zhoodar Buzumov, Zhumabek Turdaliev, Aike Beishekeeva and Akyl Orozbekov will be kept in Bishkek pretrial detention center 1 until March 13. All of them are former or current employees of Temirov Live.