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Kazakh Court Frees Opposition Journalist

16 August 2004 -- A court in Kazakhstan today granted a permanent early release to an opposition journalist who was jailed after being found guilty of raping a 14-year-old girl.

Sergei Duvanov's conviction was criticized by independent media groups in Kazakhstan and international media rights organizations as being politically motivated. Duvanov often wrote about scandals involving government officials.

Duvanov has always maintained he was innocent of the charges against him.

Duvanov was convicted in January 2002. A district court in Almaty ruled that he had served half of his 3 1/2-year sentence and due to his good behavior was eligible for early release.

Duvanov was originally imprisoned, but was later put under house arrest.

(RFE/RL Kazakh Service/AP)

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