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Ermek Narymbaev in court in January

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Jailed Kazakh civil-rights activist Ermek Narymbaev has been transferred to house arrest.

His wife, Zoya Narymbaeva, told RFE/RL that a court in Almaty ruled on February 22 that her husband could serve his term under house arrest.

On January 22, Narymbaev and his colleague, Serikzhan Mambetalin, were sentenced to three and two years in prison, respectively, for inciting social hatred.

Both pleaded not guilty, saying the charges against them were politically motivated.

Mambetalin was released on January 30 after he publicly "repented" of "his mistakes" and asked the authorities to release him.

Narymbaev refused to "repent" and had been on hunger strike since January 18, demanding his immediate release.

Mambetalin and Narymbaev, who are known for their criticism of the government, were arrested in mid-October.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Turkey to immediately release a Syrian journalist who, according to the group, was detained earlier this week after trying to apply for a residency permit.

The reason for the detention of journalist Rami Jarrah in the southern city of Gaziantep is not clear. CPJ said he was questioned about his journalistic activities.

Jarrah, who fled Syria in 2011, is the founder of the independent citizen journalist group ANA press that provides footage and reports to major news outlets.

"Jarrah is known for his independent reporting on the war in Syria, which he has been covering for years at great risk," CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Nina Ognianova said.

"Syrian journalists like Jarrah, who have turned to Turkey for safe refuge, should be protected rather than subjected to detention and harassment, " she added.

Turkish authorities have not publicly commented on the case.

Turkey has come under criticism for pressuring media workers.

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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.


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