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Kyrgyzstan: Press Organization Protests Journalist's Sentence

Bishkek, 2 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - An independent organization working to defend press freedom worldwide has protested against the three-year jail sentence given to Kyrgyz journalist Rysbek Omurzakov.

Omurzakov was accused of libel and sentenced by a local court in Bishkek on Monday to three years in a prison camp for an article published in an opposition weekly. He has already been in custody for six months during the criminal investigation.

Omurzakov was accused of libelling Mikhail Paryshkura, a manager of a machine-building factory, after publishing a critical article about living conditions in the factory hostel earlier this year.

Reporters Without Borders quotes in its protest letter a U.N. human rights report that says punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion is one of the most reprehensible ways to enjoin silence and violate human rights.

Meanwhile, two representatives of the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) met in Bishkek Tuesday with Omurzakov. According to Omurzakov, OSCE representatives told him government officials had informed them that his case had been settled and he had been acquitted.