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Kyrgyzstan: Rights Group Sends Letter Concerning Journalist

Prague, 26 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - A human rights group that works to protect journalists has sent a letter to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev regarding a reported detention.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists sent the letter yesterday calling on Akayev to secure the journalist's immediate release. It said Ryspek Omurzakov, a journalist from the opposition weekly Res Publica in the capital Bishkek, was arrested earlier this week.

The letter says no formal accusation has been made, but linked the arrest to a libel suit brought against him by the director of the Frunze Machine-Building Factory in Bishkek, Mikhail Paryshkura. Paryshkura filed a libel suit against the journalist after a January article claiming poor conditions in the factory's hostel.

The CPJ letter says that regardless of the merits of the suit, it condemns any criminal prosecution for libel. The group said that there is no other known case in Europe or the Commonwealth of Independent States of a journalist being jailed for libelling a public figure.