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Reporters Without Borders demand to release Zulpukar Sapanov

The international organization Reporters Without Borders condemned the verdict against the Kyrgyz journalist Zulpukar Sapanov and urged the Kyrgyz authorities to dismiss charges against him. Organization said in its statement.

«Zulpukar Sapanov’s imprisonment sets a disturbing precedent for freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan,» said Johann Bihr, the head of the organization’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. «We condemn his conviction and call on the courts to release him without delay.»

In 2016, the journalist published the book «Kydyr Sanzhyrasy,» after which representatives of various religious organizations appealed to the State National Security Committee with a request to take measures against Sapanov. The SCNS initiated a criminal case against the journalist on the Article «Inciting national (interethnic), racial, religious or inter-regional hatred» of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Zulpukar Sapanov was sentenced to four years in prison and taken into custody in the courtroom on September 12, 2017.

The organization Reporters Without Borders with headquartered in Paris placed Kyrgyzstan in a rating published in the summer as one of the «problem countries» in terms of freedom of speech. Last year, the republic occupied the 85th place among 180 states, and this year the country dropped four positions down — to 89th place.