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Raushan Esergepova
ALMATY -- A trial for three organizers of a rally supporting jailed journalists in Kazakhstan began today in Almaty, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Raushan Esergepova, the wife of the jailed "Alma-Ata info" newspaper editor Ramazan Esergepov; Vladimir Kozlov, leader of the unregistered opposition group Alga; and Rozlana Taukina, the head of the Kazakh nongovernmental organization Journalists in Trouble, are accused of violating a law on the holding of rallies, marches, and demonstrations in holding a rally last week.

The three say the charges against them are politically motivated.

On January 6, a flash-mob protest action was held in central Almaty to support jailed journalists, including Esergepov, "Vremya" newspaper correspondent Tohniyaz Kuchukov, writer Alpamys Bekturganov, and "Law and Justice" editor in chief Tokbergen Abiev.

Esergepov was found guilty in August of revealing state secrets after publishing some government documents. Abiev was convicted for investigating judicial corruption. Writer and journalist Alpamys Bekturganov was imprisoned after writing a critical article about West Kazakhstan Governor Baktykozha Izmukhambetov, who won a libel case against him.
Iranian opposition supporters at an antigovernment protest in Tehran on December 27. (faces blurred by photographer Dara)
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran has released a German citizen arrested during antigovernment riots on December 27 and plans to free a detained Syrian journalist, an Iranian news agency reported.

The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Tehran General Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying the German national was released late on January 8 while the Syrian journalist will be freed later today.

Eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi on Ashura, a day of ritual Shi'ite mourning that fell on December 27.

It was the worst violence since protests in the immediate aftermath of a disputed presidential election in June. Opposition protesters say the vote was rigged in favor of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, which the government denies.

The opposition website Rahesabz said on January 6 that more than 180 people, including 17 journalists, 10 Musavi aides, and some members of the outlawed Baha'i faith, were arrested in the aftermath of the December 27 protests.

A European diplomat was held for 24 hours.

Dolatabadi said that an unspecified number of Baha'is, whose faith is outlawed in Iran, will face trial this week. He did not give details.

"The German national was released last night and the Syrian reporter of Dubai Television will be released today," he said. He did not give any further information.

"The trial session of these Baha'is will be held during the current week at branch 28 of the Tehran Islamic revolutionary court," he added.

Dolatabadi said on January 8 that another five detainees Iran plans to try in connection with the antigovernment protests were members of the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an exile group opposed to Iran's Islamic system of government.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More